Study shows Bt trait in corn having reduced effectiveness

By Matt Shipman, NC State University

A new study from North Carolina State University and Clemson University finds that the toxin in a widely used genetically modified (GM) crop is having little impact on the crop pest called corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) – which is consistent with predictions made almost 20 years ago that had been largely ignored. The study may be a signal to pay closer attention to warning signs about the development of resistance in agricultural pests to GM crops.

At issue is genetically engineered corn that produces a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein which, in turn produces a toxin called Cry1Ab. This GM corn was originally designed to address a pest called the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and went on the market in 1996.

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Cucurbit downy mildew in FL, GA, and SC

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Cucurbit downy mildew, caused by the oomycete Pseudoperonospora cubensis, is a yearly concern for North Carolina cucurbit growers.  The disease affects cucurbit crops such as cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and squash, but cucumber is particularly susceptible. The Cucurbit Downy Mildew IPM pipe website has been established to provide an early alert system to cucurbit growers so they can initiate preventive sprays once the disease is found in neighboring states, and they can switch to more aggressive spray programs once the disease is in North Carolina to avoid any crop loss and unnecessary sprays.

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