Sunday, July 28, 2013
Pest resurgence casts doubts on benefits of modified corn | Minnesota Public Radio News: "Pest resurgence casts doubts on benefits of modified corn"
Algona, Iowa — The resurgence of a major corn pest has led to a growing debate about the role of genetically modified corn, and cast doubts on the economic and environmental benefits of one of the nation's most popular seed lines.
Rootworms have damaged corn plants in Minnesota and other states, and research suggests rootworms have developed immunity to the protections in Monsanto's genetically modified corn.
Officials at Monsanto, the nation's leading seed corn company, deny that the pest is developing a resistance to the protein. Instead, they contend that overwhelming numbers of rootworms are to blame for the damage.
Insect experts who doubt the company's theory include Michael McNeill, an agricultural consultant with his own farm in northern Iowa, about 30 miles south of the Minnesota border.
In a test patch in McNeil's cornfields, where a recent wind storm left some varieties unhurt, stalks of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn are lying on the ground.
"You can see how the plant is tipped over," McNeill said. "The root ball is partially sticking out of the ground."
As McNeil pried a corn stalk out of the soil and used a knife to knock the dirt off the plant, he quickly spotted root damage.
Posted by JOlmsted at 10:26 PM