Sunday, November 8, 2009

GE Corn Growers Out of Compliance

  • Farmers growing genetically engineereed corn break rules
    By Elizabeth Weise
    USA Today, November 6, 2009
    Straight to the Source

Corn genetically engineered to resist pests and tolerate herbicides made up 85% of the U.S. corn crop in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But a report by a watchdog group, out today, finds that since 2006, farmers have become increasingly non-compliant with federally-mandated planting requirements designed to keep the popular technology useful in the future.

Approximately 25% of U.S. farmers no longer follow Environmental Protection Agency requirements to plant conventional corn "refuge fields." Those fields are crucial to ensuring that the pests - corn borers and corn rootworms - don't become resistant to the pesticide the plants have been engineered to make.

About 65% of genetically engineered (GE) corn contains a gene from a common soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which produces a chemical that kills either corn rootworms or corn borers. EPA required refuge fields to ensure that that some insects had non-GE corn to eat, so that not all would develop resistance to the genetically engineered corn. The insecticide produced by the corn is very mild. Organic growing rules allow the use of Bt bacterium sprays.

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