When corn prices suddenly rose dramatically in 2007, Illinois researchers reported that some farmers were willing to do anything to increase their yields. Many of them used products to combat pests that they didn’t even have.
Crops genetically engineered with the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been grown in the United States since 1996. Since then, concerns about pest resistance have grown, mainly because of observed resistance of the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea), a major pest of cotton. According to a 2009 published study in the Journal of Economic Entomology, insect resistance to Bt can be monitored and prevented.
Cotton growers know the pest as the bollworm. Corn growers call it corn earworm. Tomato growers don it tomato fruitworm. By any name, the pest is Helicoverpa zea, and it’s the first pest to develop resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis.