Corn Rootworm Now Resistant to Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Corn

As Ken Roseboro wrote earlier today, Monsanto GM sweet corn is about to be much more ubiquitous in the U.S. Interestingly, this announcement comes at about the same time as the release of a new study out of Iowa State University showing that some organisms — Western corn rootworm — that are supposed to be repelled by this GM corn are becoming resistant to it (and passing on that resistance to their offspring).

genetically modified monsanto corn not repelling insects

From the authors:

We report that fields identified by farmers as having severe rootworm feeding injury to Bt maize contained populations of western corn rootworm that displayed significantly higher survival on Cry3Bb1 maize in laboratory bioassays than did western corn rootworm from fields not associated with such feeding injury. In all cases, fields experiencing severe rootworm feeding contained Cry3Bb1 maize. Interviews with farmers indicated that Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in those fields for at least three consecutive years. There was a significant positive correlation between the number of years Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in a field and the survival of rootworm populations on Cry3Bb1 maize in bioassays.

While Monsanto notes that the yields are not yet being significantly affected by such GM-resistant pests, the point is that there is clear development of resistance over time (just a few years even) and, as the authors conclude, “a more integrated approach to the use of Bt crops may be necessary.”

The correlation between severe rootworm injury to crops and use of GM corn is pretty clear. Will it keep the U.S. from planting more and more GM corn? Not unless more people (i.e. you) start speaking up in opposition to GM corn and other crops.

Image via Iowa State University study

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is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.
  • you don’t mention that Monsanto is now selling corn with two separate teens per insect and also developing 3rd and 4th genes that should and will solve this minor non-issue. That they also have multi-herbicide resistance traits already on the market and several in development. Do these facts not fit with your propaganda? Why don’t you research your news stories better?

    • This reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon showing several scientists lost in a maze with one holding a mouse on a leash who’s leading the way. One of the scientists says, “Gentic engineering got us into this and genetic engineering will get us out.”

  • You stated that the Western Corn Rootworm is REPELLED by the gene. Wrong, the worm eats the gene and dies. The problem is not Monsanto. Read the report, the farmers are not following the rules or guidelines for use of the corn. Not a Monsanto problem, a user problem or a user stupidity.

  • @R A Hunt and Tony: The problem is definitely Monsanto, as well as misinformed people such as yourselves.
    These gmo crops were first planted in 2003 and the corn root worm developed resistance to them by 2009 (6 years).
    Research is definitely what you need to do. A good place for you to start is the Institute for Responsible Technology.