Opponents of GM plants are concerned about the proliferation of such crops in various worldwide markets. While some countries may ban them for cultivation, other countries are quite open to their potential and serve as a venue for testing out many of these genetically modified crops. The problem many of those opposed to GM crops see is that new varieties are being sold and made available commercially with lack of safety testing and similar studies. It seems that profits and the company bottom line are prioritized in exchange for human and environmental safety. Even from a commercial standpoint, a number of these GM crops may not be able to provide the benefits their creators usually highlight as they reach the market. Take for example the Bt Maize 1507.
According to a recent study that was published in the journal Crop Protection, the Bt Maize 1507, which was developed by US companies Pioneer/DuPont and Dow, are showing for the first time pests that develop resistance to the toxins aimed to kill them. The event was recently observed in Brazil only after three years of cultivation. The said GM crop has already garnered market approval for cultivation in the said country. But in only a short span of three years, scientists have found resistant populations of fall armyworm or Spodoptera frugiperda in the federal states of Rio Grande del Sul and Bahia. The fall armyworm is considered as the most important pest that affects maize plantations in Brazil. First instances of reported pest resistance to Bt 1507 was observed in 2012.
But according to scientists, the development of pest resistance is not entirely surprising. Previous studies conducted in Puerto Rico in 2008 has already shown that the said pest has already acquired resistance to the said Bt crop after a few years of cultivation. As a result of these findings, cultivation of maize 1507 was withdrawn from the market in Puerto Rico.
The case in Brazil indicates the trend that has been happening with Bt crops nearly twenty years after they were first introduced for commercial cultivation. Development of resistance among pests has been observed in countries growing this type of genetically engineered crop. The biotech companies are tackling the problem by developing new GM crops that can produce multiple Bt toxins to fight off the pests. Such GM crops are now in development such as the SmartStax maize from Monsanto that can produce six different Bt toxins. While the concern for fighting off the pests may be tackled, safety concerns with regards to the environment or relative to human consumption may be an entirely different matter altogether.