Insect Resistance To Bt Toxins Increasing In Insect Resistant GM Crops

While biotech companies are trying to extol the many benefits of using GM crops to many farmers, there seems to be a growing concern of its long term effects and for what it may possibly do to the environment at large. For example, scientists have recently conducted an insect resistance review of insects to Bt toxins that are inserted into GM crops like Bt cotton and Bt corn.

While GM companies have promised lesser pesticide use with GM crops, the opposite seems to be happening. Farmers are increasingly using more and more pesticides when growing GM crops. This is what especially happened in the Gujarat in India where GM Bt cotton was being grown.

In March of 2010, Biotech giant Monsanto announced that its Bt Cotton Bolgard I being grown in Gujarat is showing sings of problems. It seems that insects that were supposed to be killed by the GM cotton were actually developing a resistance to the said toxin produced by the GM plant. The pink bollworm has shown signs that it can resist the Bt toxins that the GM crop produced to kill the pests that affects it. And because of the said resistance, farmers are using more and more pesticides in order to control the infestation. That was one of the first reports made on pest resistance to GM crops.

There are also reports this year that the same thing may be happening to GM Bt maize being grown in the US. The western corn rootworm is said to also develop a resistance to the Bt toxin in the GM corn. There are also other instances of pest resistance reports from other countries that are growing GM plants.

The stem borer has also been reported to have developed a resistance to the Bt toxin in Bt maize grown in South Africa. The fall armyworm pest has developed similar Bt toxin resistance in Bt maize being grown in Puerto Rico. One of the main reasons scientists say is that the Bt toxin that the GM plants produce may not be on a level so as to cause pest mortality. Some of the GM crops were also found to produce less of the Bt toxin as they age, making it easy for the pests to develop resistance to them in time.

What the biotech companies are saying about GM crops being “pro-poor” may no longer be accurate if pests eventually develop a stronger resistance from them. The suggested solution in controlling the said pests would be to use more pesticides on the plants, the one thing that would greatly add to the cost of growing GM crops. This will eventually affect the farmers and with such crops showing no more distinct benefits from growing their natural plant relatives.

Source:  GM Watch

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