Corn-eating pests have evolved a resistance to the natural pesticide-producing bacteria added to GMO corn specifically to repel them.
More than three-quarters of the corn grown in the US is insect-resistant "Bt corn" genetically altered to be toxic to root worms, pests that used to cause billions of dollars in crop damage.
Ten years ago, scientists warned that farmers were not following EPA regulations requiring them to plant at least 20% non-Bt corn as a "refuge" in order to delay the development of resistance to the GMO crops in root worms.
Now, a new study released through the National Academy of Sciences appears to bear that out.
Beginning in 2009, western corn rootworm with resistance to maize producing the Bt toxin...[caused] severe injury to Bt maize in farmers' fields.
The report also raised concerns about the EPA's failure to adequately monitor for compliance or enforce regulations and the implications that had on future technologies.
The high degree of noncompliance more than three years after imposition of an obligation to plant a modest 20 percent refuge raises serious questions about whether the regulatory system can adequately manage biotechnology's next generation of products... EPA must establish a multi-prong strategy to increase farmer compliance with refuge requirements. EPA should rely upon USDA's data and other independent data sources to assess farmer compliance, instead of relying solely upon the industry's survey.