Genetically modified corn growers not obeying rules designed to maintain pest resistance
Stop bugging me: As many as 25% of the American farmers growing genetically engineered corn are no longer complying with federal rules intended to maintain the resistance of the crops to damage from insects, according to a Center for Science in the Public Interest report released Thursday based on EPA records. (CSPI does not oppose GE crops, but does favor stricter regulation.) The crops in question, called BT corn, have bacterial genes spliced into their DNA that cause the plants to make toxins that kill certain insects when they feed on the crop. The EPA requires farmers in the Corn Belt to plant 20% of their fields with non-BT corn to serve as a refuge for insects and hopefully promote cross breeding between resistant and nonresistant bugs, but farmers have stopped complying. The seed companies ahve been trying to encourage them to do so, with postcards and billboards, but higher corn prices seem to exert more immediate sway than fear of super-bugs. (New York Times) This reminds us of certain software companies that depend on users to download and install cumbersome patches to address their operating system's security holes — and when they don't, the entire network (or ecosystem) is left vulnerable instead.
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