Rootworms have developed resistance to genetically engineered corn

By Muriel Kane
Sunday, July 8, 2012 20:41 EDT
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Bt-resistant rootworms screencap
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Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that Monsanto’s Bt corn, which was genetically engineered a decade ago to ward off rootworms, is now falling prey to worms that have developed resistance to the plants’ built-in insecticide. The EPA also expressed concern that Monstanto’s monitoring was “inadequate and likely to miss early resistance events.”

At the time, a company spokesperson denied there was a problem, telling Bloomberg News, “Monsanto continues to believe there’s no scientific confirmation of resistance to its Bt corn.”

However, this year’s corn-growing season is now well under way in the United States, and in some places the crops are suffering severe damage. Scientists have identitied the culprit as Bt-resistant rootworms.

The resistant rootworms have also appeared in South Africa, India, and China, but they may have the greatest impact in the United States, where more than half the corn grown is Bt.

According to Monsanto’s critics, this outcome amounts to a “perfect storm.” We’re stuck with the potential risks to human health that may result from eating genetically-modified foods and we’re not even getting the promised benefits. In addition, American taxpayers could find themselves picking up the tab for any crop failures, thanks to government subsidies.

This video is from AlJazeeraEnglish and was uploaded to YouTube on July 7, 2012.

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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