Study IDs Ways to Encourage ‘Refuge’ Planting, Slowing Resistance to Bt Crops

by Matt Shipman, North Carolina State University

A new study from North Carolina State University finds a significant shortfall in the amount of “refuge” cropland being planted in North Carolina – likely increasing the rate at which crop pests will evolve the ability to safely devour genetically engineered Bt crops. However, the study also identified actions that may make farmers more likely to plant refuge crops in the future.

For about 20 years, growers have made use of Bt crops to limit crop damage from pests. Bt crops, including corn, are genetically engineered to produce proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium. These proteins are harmless to vertebrates, but toxic to a specific class of invertebrate crop pests. Continue reading

Higher Crop Returns Don’t Negate Need for Thoughtful Pest Management

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.

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