Nature isn’t taking long to defeat genetically modified crops – but it raises the question, what next?
Crops engineered to produce insecticidal toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are being challenged by pests increasingly showing resistance to it.
In November 2009, Monsanto scientists found the pink bollworm had become resistant to the first generation Bt cotton in parts of India, Australia, China, Spain and the United States.
So what did Monsanto do? It cooked up a second generation cotton plant with multiple Bt proteins. More is *always* better.
Problem solved? Not really, the pink bollworm may have met its match for a while, but it seems there has been increases in other pests not affected by Bt that have knocked the stuffing out of any benefits from Bt cotton cultivation according to an entry on Wikipedia.
It’s not just GM cotton that is experiencing a backlash from nature. The western corn rootworm might be getting the upper hand with GM maize crops as well.
According to researchers from the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University, crops suffering severe rootworm feeding injury to Bt maize contained populations of western corn rootworm that also displayed significantly higher survival on Cry3Bb1 maize in laboratory testing.
I’ve been reading some of Monsanto’s reaction to this and I find it quite puzzling. I’m not a farmer by any stretch of the imagination, but some of what I see being recommended is part of good *non-GM* crop rotation and management practices; stuff I learned in Agriculture classes when I was 14. Of course, Monsanto also recommends using (buying) other ( Monsanto) products as well to fend off the little beasties; helpful folks that they are.
It seems like their non-GM counterparts, these crops may become a lot of hard work – and a lot of unknowns thrown in with them.
Loss of heirloom and heritage crops, patenting species, glyphosate resistance, GM crop failure, scarcity of water – the future of food production is still looking a little frightening.
GM crops – failure to yield
GM vs selective breeding
Heritage and heirloom seeds