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Digging Deeper


Will farmers be resistant to Monsanto seed after reports of resistance?

The world’s largest seed company may be seeing some resistance to one of its product by a very small pest.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report last week that said Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn may be losing some of its effectiveness against rootworms and a plan should be implemented for “suspected resistance.”

Read the EPA memo here and the Bloomberg news report here.  

Fields in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska are suspected of developing tolerance to the plants’ insecticide, based on cases of severe crop damage, the EPA said in a memo. Monsanto’s program for monitoring this resistance is “inadequate,” the memo said.

Monsanto told Minnesota Public Radio that the EPA has not proven that rootworms have become resistant to its product. Here’s a statement from the company’s website:

Monsanto Company said that it continues to take reports on the performance of its corn rootworm products seriously and remains committed to working with farmers to encourage the adoption of integrated pest management practices when managing high rootworm populations on farm.

Is this news earth-shattering? Not when you consider that several scientists have predicted that these crops could become resistant over the long-term.

But this memo takes on even more significance since the release last summer of an Iowa State report that revealed the first documented case of corn rootworm resistance.

What do you think? We want to talk to farmers who may change their planting decisions after reading these reports. Click here to talk to our Harvest Network.

For a detailed explanation and good background on this story, go to NPR's food blog, The Salt.