UMD researchers have pulled collectively forty years of knowledge to quantify the consequences of Bt discipline corn, a extremely marketed and profitable genetically engineered expertise, in a novel and large-scale collaborative examine. Other research have demonstrated the benefits of Bt corn or cotton adoption on pest administration for pests just like the European corn borer or cotton bollworm in corn or cotton itself, however that is the primary examine to take a look at the consequences on different offsite crops in North America. By monitoring European corn borer populations, this examine reveals important decreases in grownup moth exercise, beneficial spraying regimens, and general crop damage in vegetable crops equivalent to candy corn, peppers, and inexperienced beans. These benefits have by no means earlier than been documented and showcase Bt crops as a robust instrument to cut back pest populations regionally thereby benefitting different crops within the agricultural panorama.
Bt corn was first launched and adopted within the United States in 1996 and is a genetically engineered crop (or GE) that makes up over 80% of our present corn plantings. In this examine, Dr. Galen Dively, Professor Emeritus and Integrated Pest Management Consultant within the Department of Entomology, and Dr. Dilip Venugopal, UMD Research Associate, use knowledge from 1976 — 2016 to take a look at traits twenty years earlier than and twenty years after adoption of Bt corn. “Safety of Bt corn has been tested extensively and proven, but this study is about effectiveness of Bt corn as a pest management strategy, and particularly benefits for offsite crops or different crops in different areas than the Bt field corn itself,” explains Venugopal.
“This is the first paper published showing offsite benefits to other host plants for a pest like the corn borer, which is a significant pest for many other crops like green beans and peppers,” says Dively. “We are seeing really more than 90 percent suppression of the European corn borer population in our area for these crops, which is incredible.”
Using numbers from pest traps to estimate the inhabitants and look at the beneficial spraying regimens for pests just like the European corn borer, Dively and Venugopal noticed important reductions within the inhabitants, with a lot much less spraying occurring over time. “There would be no recommendation to spray for the corn borer given the current population, and this paper can trace that back to Bt corn adoption,” stated Dively. “What’s more, by looking at the actual pest infestations and damage on actual crops over forty years of data, we took it a step farther to see the benefits on all sorts of crops and the declines in the actual pest population. We are able to see the results in theory and in practice on actual crops and in the real pest population over a long stretch of time.”
“The next steps would to be quantify the potentially millions of dollars in economic benefits we see here in a very concrete way to show money and time saved on spraying and pest management, crop damage reduction, as well as consideration of the environmental benefits. The important thing here, however, is to think of Bt crops as one of many tools in an integrated pest management tool box. The benefits are undeniable, but must always be weighed against many other options to use a broad range of tools and maximize benefit while minimizing any potential risks such as the pests developing Bt resistance,” stated Venugopal.
Dively concludes, “This study ultimately shows the importance of evaluating GE crops beyond the field that is being planted. These products and the new advances coming down the pipeline have the potential to suppress major pest populations just like Bt corn has. This is just the beginning, and we need to be quantifying these effects. I am excited by these results and encouraged for future work.”
Their paper is printed within the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
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