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Midwestern farmers might be overplanting Bt corn

(April 20, 2001 --Cropchoice news) -- Farmers in the upper Midwestern states appear to be planting Bt corn as an insurance measure against the European corn borer, even though the pest isn't a big problem in the area.

Monsanto created Bt corn through insertion of the insecticidal gene of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control the European corn borer.

Growers have been planting the Bt variety on 20 to 30 percent of their corn acreage despite the fact that the corn borer pressures only about 2 to 3 percent of that acreage, Iowa State University entomologist John Obrycki told Cropchoice.

In effect, he said, farmers are paying a high premium for protection where there wasn't much of a problem in the first place.

The heavy planting of the transgenic corn does raise a concern about corn borers and other pests developing resistance to Bt.

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