Superbug vs. Monsanto: Nature Rebels Against Biotech Titan
A growing number of root worms are now able to devour genetically modified corn specifically designed by Monsanto to kill those same pests. A new study shows that while the biotech giant may triumph in Congress, it will never be able to outsmart nature.
Western corn rootworms have been able to harmlessly consume the genetically modified maize, a research paper published in the latest issue of the journal GM Crops & Food reveals. A 2010 sample of the rootworm population had an elevenfold survival rate on the genetically modified corn compared to a control population. That’s eight times more than the year before, when the resistant population was first identified.
Experts are also noting that this year’s resistant rootworm populations are maturing earlier than expected. In fact, the time the bug’s larvae hatched was the earliest in decades.
“The Western corn rootworm ‘season’ is underway at a pace earlier than I have experienced since I began studying this versatile insect as a graduate student in the late 1970s,” entomologist Mike Gray wrote in The Bulletin, a periodical issued by the University of Chicago’s Department of Crop Studies.
Studies in other states have also revealed that the rootworm population is becoming increasingly resistant to genetically modified corn. Last year, Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann noted that a number of farmers reported discovering, much to their dismay, that a large number of rootworms survived after the consumption of their GM crops. Gassmann branded these pests “superbugs.”