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When nature adapts: Pests thriving on Monsanto GMO corn

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While controversy and opinions continue to swirl around the hot-button topic of genetically modified produce, a new report from biotech firm Monsanto sounds like the premise of a Stephen King story. According to, pests known as the western corn rootworm have not only been surviving but thriving on corn genetically modified to kill the bugs. A 2010 sample showed that the worms had an elevenfold survival rate compared to a control population, eight times more than the previous year. They pests have also hatched earlier, “about a month ahead of schedule,” said Mike Gray, professor of entomology at University of Illinois, to

"This is not something that is a surprise... but it is something that needs to be addressed," said Joseph Spencer, another entomologist at University of Illinois, to Reuters. Spencer is one of 22 academic corn experts who sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency with warnings regarding the failure of the genetic modifications at protecting the corn. That letter also warned of the financial ramifications for farmers paying much higher prices for the seeds, with the added costs of pesticides. Those added costs could potentially end up reflected in food prices at the local grocery store.

The anti-rootworm corn, introduced in 2003, has been modified with the protein Cry3Bb1, derived from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium, meant to be fatal to the rootworm. The report was revealed in a research paper published in the July/August/September 2012 issue of the “GM Crops & Food” journal.