Study: Bt Corn Offers Collateral Benefits To Conventional Corn

A group of agricultural scientists reported in a recent issue of the Journal Science that corn that has been genetically engineered to produce insect-killing proteins isolated from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) provides significant economic benefits even to neighboring farmers who grow non-transgenic varieties of corn.

“Modern agricultural science is playing a critical role in addressing many of the toughest issues facing American agriculture today, including pest management and productivity,” says agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. “This study provides important information about the benefits of biotechnology by directly examining how area-wide suppression of corn borers using Bt corn can improve yield and grain quality even of non-Bt varieties.”

The researchers estimate that farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin received cumulative economic benefits of nearly $7 billion between 1996-2009, with benefits of more than $4 billion for non-Bt corn farmers alone. The scientists estimated that in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, borer populations in adjacent non-Bt fields declined by 28 to 73 percent, with similar reductions recorded in Iowa and Nebraska.

The researchers attribute the collateral benefits enjoyed by non-Bt farmers to areawide suppression of corn borers stemming from long-term plantings of Bt-protected crops. Potato, green bean and other host crops also stand to benefit from areawide reductions of corn borers, the researchers note. The team’s Science report also highlights the importance of the use of refuge crops-the planting of non-Bt crops adjacent to fields of Bt crops, providing a refuge to which the pests can retreat-and other strategies to slow the corn borer’s ability to develop resistance to Bt and thus maintain the insecticidal proteins’ long-term effectiveness.

The Bt proteins provide the plant with a built-in defense against attacks by the larvae of European corn borers and other insect pests. Larvae that ingest the protein soon stop feeding and die, typically within 48 hours. In addition to reducing the use of insecticides that also can endanger beneficial insects, the Bt defense strategy helps prevent harmful molds from gaining entry to the plants via wound sites from borer feeding. Some of these molds, like Fusarium, produce mycotoxins that can diminish the value and safety of the crop’s kernels.

Bt corn debuted in 1996, and by 2009 was planted on nearly 55 million acres in the United States, accounting for nearly 63 percent of the total U.S. corn crop of 87 million acres. But no research groups had previously investigated the long-term impact of such plantings on corn borer populations on a regional scale, nor had there been any assessment of whether the use of the crop provided any sort of collateral benefit to adjacent or nearby fields of non-Bt crops.

The team was led by William Hutchison of the University of Minnesota and included Rick Hellmich, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist at the Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit operated at Ames, Iowa, by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency. The team gathered 14 years’ worth of corn borer population data from Bt corn plantings and combined it with national corn production figures, including yields, prices and acreage planted.

(Source: USDA)

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Growers
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw National Security Scrutiny
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare Institute On Track
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready …
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop Inputs6 Things To Know About The ChemChina-Syngenta Deal
February 3, 2016
After months of rumors and speculation, Syngenta has announced that ChemChina has offered to acquire the Swiss-based company. “In making Read More