Wednesday, February 26, 2003

The EPA approved Monsanto's YieldGard Rootworm corn yesterday (funny, Monsanto seemed to know about this before it happened) [NYT]
"Corn rootworm is the pest that requires the single largest use of conventional pesticides in the United States," said Stephen L. Johnson, the E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances. "From an environmental and human health perspective, this product replaces some very significant problematic, or potentially problematic, chemicals."...

But Charles Benbrook, a consultant and former agricultural specialist for the National Research Council who has been critical of genetically modified crops, said that data provided by Monsanto showed the corn would not kill all the rootworms. "If it doesn't perform any better than soil insecticides I think a lot of farmers will stick with the insecticides," he said....

The plot thickens:
To prevent rootworms from becoming resistant to the BT corn, the E.P.A. is requiring that farmers plant 20 percent of their corn fields with different corn, as a refuge. That is the figure proposed by Monsanto.

But the majority of members of a scientific advisory panel convened by the E.P.A. last August recommended that the refuge be 50 percent of each farm's corn acreage. This larger refuge requirement might have discouraged some farmers from growing the new corn.

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