(NPR) — Some of the first GMOs — corn and cotton plants genetically modified to fend off insects — are running into problems.
Pests have become resistant to them because they've been overused.
Now, scientists are pushing for new regulations.
Some of the first GMOs – corn and cotton plants that have been genetically modified to fend off insects – are running into problems. Bugs have become resistant to them because they've been overused.
Corn and cotton crops were the original genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. They weren't the first ones invented, but they were the first to be widely embraced by farmers, starting in the late 1990s.
Bt crops brought a two-fold benefit: Cotton and corn farmers didn't need to use so many chemicals to control the bollworm and related pests after they were released, starting in 1996. “Our insecticide sprays just plummeted, and there were guys who wouldn't have to treat at all,” says David Kerns, an entomologist at Texas A&M University, speaking of cotton farmers.
New strains of bollworms, rootworms, and other pests have emerged that are able to feed on Bt plants without dying. David Kerns says some farmers are pretty angry about it. “There are words I can't use,” he says, “but they want to know what the heck they're doing, paying for a technology and then they're still having to spray.”