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GMO Corn Failing to Protect Fields from Pests

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page. and our Illinois News page.

Researchers in the key corn-growing state of Illinois are finding significant damage from rootworms in farm fields planted in a rotation with a genetically modified corn, a combination of measures that are supposed to protect the crop from the pests, according to a new report.

"It's very alarming," said Joe Spencer, an insect behaviorist with the Illinois Natural History Survey who is researching the issue.

Evidence gathered from fields in two Illinois counties suggests that pest problems are mounting as the rootworms grow ever more resistant to efforts to fight them, including crop rotation combined with use of the biotech corn, according to the report issued by Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois, in conjunction with Mr. Spencer.

Farmers across "a wide swath of Illinois" could face formidable challenges protecting corn crops from the hungry insects, Prof. Gray said in the Aug. 27 report.

The crop damage was found in fields where the specialized biotech corn had been planted in a rotation following soybeans, a practice that typically helps beat back the rootworm problems as western corn rootworm adults typically lay eggs in cornfields and not in soybean fields.

But a large number of adult western corn rootworms were collected in both the damaged corn fields and from adjacent soybean fields. And they appear to also be resistant to the biotech corn, a double whammy for farmers.      
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