Appears US agribusiness is taking every mistake made with antibiotics & repeating them with GM crops: http://t.co/sACE5kIu0z Of course.
— billmon (@billmon1) March 18, 2014
From the Wired article:
… Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop. The vulnerability of this corn could be disastrous for farmers and the environment…
First planted in 1996, Bt corn quickly became hugely popular among U.S. farmers. Within a few years, populations of rootworms and corn borers, another common corn pest, had plummeted across the midwest. Yields rose and farmers reduced their use of conventional insecticides that cause more ecological damage than the Bt toxin.
By the turn of the millennium, however, scientists who study the evolution of insecticide resistance were warning of imminent problems. Any rootworm that could survive Bt exposures would have a wide-open field in which to reproduce; unless the crop was carefully managed, resistance would quickly emerge.
Key to effective management, said the scientists, were refuges set aside and planted with non-Bt corn. Within these fields, rootworms would remain susceptible to the Bt toxin. By mating with any Bt-resistant worms that chanced to evolve in neighboring fields, they’d prevent resistance from building up in the gene pool.
But the scientists’ own recommendations — an advisory panel convened in 2002 by the EPA suggested that a full 50 percent of each corn farmer’s fields be devoted to these non-Bt refuges — were resisted by seed companies and eventually the EPA itself, which set voluntary refuge guidelines at between 5 and 20 percent. Many farmers didn’t even follow those recommendations…
Distinguished Professor C. Northcote Parkinson, back around the end of the 1960s, wrote a book about the new-fangled science of ecology. He blamed our primate evolution for the root of most of our long-term problems, short- term solutions psychology: Our monkey brains are incurably convinced that anything we can’t see — that has dropped out of the tree — has by all reasonable measures disappeared. And for those once-in-a-monkey’s-lifetime problems that don’t drop away into the void (fruit failure, snake incursions), the sensible solution is just to move on to another tree. Professor Parkinson’s neurobiology may have been weak, but his understanding of social psychology was unimpeachable.