Genetically Modified Crops and Their Genetically Modified Bugs

Reading about a super plague attacking genetically-modified corn seems like a story out of ancient times and the future put together. Yet, that is exactly what is occurring in the United States and Europe as we speak. As the debate of pros and cons of genetically-modified foods continues, this turn of events can count as a con to those rallying for GMO foods.

A pest has now succumbed to feeding off of genetically modified corn, though this type of corn was developed by Monsanto to thwart off rootworms. Ironically, nature still finds a way. The concept Monsanto has created has been working for over a decade, hence farmers continue to plant the corn year after year. A good farmer knows, however, that if you plant the same product year after year there will be no growth as the plant will become accustomed to the soil. While this has occurred, worms that have attached themselves to the genetically modified corn are figuring out how to survive and therefore are turning into "superbugs"; something no farmer wants lurking in their fields.

The superbugs are causing problems for all facets of the world of corn. According to Eve Toreh's piece of genetically modified corn, Darin Newsom, a senior agriculture analyst at DTN states "corn prices are booming because of more demand to feed animals, to send overseas, and to make ethanol." Needless to say, farmers can't afford to have these superbugs taking over their genetically modified corn, as there is such a high demand for corn right now.

Monsanto is telling its farmers to not back away from the genetically modified corn but is already finding a way to fix this problem. They have developed bags that contain a mix of unprotected and protected seeds, which disenable the superbugs to attach to their growing corn. From Mira Oberman's genetically modified corn superbugs piece she quoted Lee Quarles from Monsanto in saying that corn "continues to provide tremendous performance to farmers and we're seeing that performance on greater than 99% of all acres planted." Why stop a good thing some might say. When the superbugs vanish genetically modified corn around the world will be growing like weeds. Which makes you wonder, which is the pest- the bugs or the GMO crops themselves?

Photo: Peter Blanchard