This pesticide-producing genetically modified (GM) corn entered the food supply in the late 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the Bt corn that kills western corn rootworm was commercialized in Illinois.
Corn rootworm is one of the most devastating pests to corn crops, and it has historically been managed in conventional farming by crop rotation and the use of insecticides applied to the soil.
With Bt corn, the use of such insecticides was supposed to be curbed… but now, just 10 years later, the pests are already developing resistance to the GM corn and other serious consequences are also being uncovered.
Corn Rootworm Is Growing Increasingly Resistant to Bt Corn
Farmers in at least two Illinois counties have experienced severe damage from corn rootworm this growing season, providing evidence that the pests have grown resistant to the Bt corn.
Other areas in Illinois, as well as Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Iowa have also been struggling with rotation-resistant rootworm that experts believe may soon develop resistance to the GM corn as well.
According to University of Illinois entomologist Michael Gray, who visited the affected corn fields:1
“… producers across a wide swath of the state will face a “formidable insect foe” capable of overcoming both crop rotation and the protein.
… corn rootworm [was collected] not just in the damaged corn but in adjacent soybean fields. ‘The density of the western corn rootworm adults in both crops … was additional evidence that the Bt hybrids had failed to offer the necessary root protection.’”
The pest resistance isn’t exactly a surprise. A scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance to Bt corn was high, but Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence — which would have entailed less of the corn being planted — were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.
Meanwhile, the corporate world has also been watching this failure unfold and has taken advantage of what they see as a solid financial opportunity. The Wall Street Journal reported:2
“American Vanguard bought a series of insecticide companies and technologies during the past decade, betting that insecticide demand would return as Bt corn started losing its effectiveness. In the past couple of years, that wager has paid off.
The Newport Beach, Calif., company reported that its soil-insecticide revenue jumped 50% in 2012, and company earnings climbed 70% as its stock price doubled. Its insecticide sales rose 41% in the first quarter to $79 million, with gains driven by corn insecticide.
FMC, based in Philadelphia, reported a 9% increase in first-quarter sales in its agricultural business, which includes insecticides and herbicides, following a 20% increase in the fourth quarter. The gains are due in part to concerns about resistance, company officials said.”
Despite What the Media and ‘Experts’ Tell You — Insecticide Use Is Now on the Rise
Reduced insecticide use has been touted as one of the significant benefits of GM crops like Bt corn. But they NEVER include the Bt toxin produced in every cell of GMO Bt crops as part of the total human pesticide exposure. This is a criminal misrepresentation and should be prosecuted at the highest level for this fraudulent propaganda.
These unnaturally modified GMO crops have led to resistance, both in weeds and pests, leaving farmers to struggle with an increasingly difficult situation. Now, instead of the reduction in insecticide use that has been promised, the use of insecticides is on the rise as farmers try to find some solution for these resistant pests. Even not factoring the GMO Bt toxin pesticide, use is still up and according to the Wall Street Journal:3
“The government doesn’t track insecticide use annually, but U.S.-based American Vanguard and FMC Corp. and Switzerland-based Syngenta, which account for more than three-quarters of the market for soil pesticides, reported significantly higher sales last year and in early 2013.
Syngenta, one of the world’s largest pesticide makers, reported that sales of its major soil insecticide for corn, which is applied at planting time, more than doubled in 2012. Chief Financial Officer John Ramsay attributed the growth to ‘increased grower awareness’ of rootworm resistance in the U.S. Insecticide sales in the first quarter climbed 5% to $480 million.”
In response to the resistant pests, Monsanto is pushing its GM corn (such as its Genuity SmartStax line) with multiple rootworm traits, rather than just the one to which many are developing resistance. But even the EPA has noted that rootworms are likely to develop resistance to these other multiple traits as well.4 Now, according to surveys conducted by Gray, about 50 percent of corn farmers are planning to ratchet up the ‘arms race’ by using a soil insecticide along with the BT seed, calling it “cheap insurance” against the possibility of resistance.5
EPA Experts Say ‘I Told You So’
A scientific advisory panel to the EPA urged that large refuges of non-Bt corn be required in order to help prevent resistance. They suggested that only half of a farmer’s corn acres be planted with Bt corn. The EPA, as they often do, went against the advisory panel’s advice and instead sided with Monsanto. They allowed Bt corn to be planted on 80 percent of their corn acreage.
Now those experts are saying “I told you so” as, in 2011, the first report of field-evolved resistance to Bt toxin by the western corn rootworm was published.6 But still their advice seems to be falling on deaf ears… as NPR reported:7
“The scientists who called for caution now are saying ‘I told you so,’ because there are signs that a new strain of resistant rootworms is emerging… [A] committee of experts at the EPA is now recommending that biotech companies put into action, for the first time, a ‘remedial action plan’ aimed at stopping the spread of such resistant insects…
The EPA’s experts also are suggesting that the agency reconsider its approval of a new kind of rootworm-killing corn, which Monsanto calls SmartStax. This new version of Bt corn includes two different Bt genes that are supposed to kill the rootworm in different ways. This should help prevent resistance from emerging, and the EPA is allowing farmers to plant it on up to 95 percent of their corn acres. But if one of those genes is already compromised… such a high percentage of Bt corn could rapidly produce insects that are resistant to the second one, too.”
Bt Crops Could be Monsanto’s Greatest Failure
This failure of Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the US, with billions of dollars at stake, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant “super-pests,” researchers have also found that the Bt toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.
Monsanto and the EPA swore that the GM corn would only harm insects. The Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. But, once again, Monsanto’s claims turned out to be false. In 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:8
- 93 percent of pregnant women tested
- 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies
- 67 percent of non-pregnant women
The study authors speculated that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that GM corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup, corn oil and other corn products. They also suggested that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are.
These shocking results also raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of “living pesticide factory”… essentially manufacturing Bt toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis through the transference of the Bt-producing gene to your gut bacteria.
Is GM Bt Toxin in Your Body Right Now?
If you eat processed foods with any regularity, it’s highly likely that, you do have Bt toxin in your body. Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for many years, and biotech companies have therefore claimed that Bt-toxin has a “history of safe use in agriculture.” But there’s a major difference between spraying it on plants, where it biodegrades in sunlight and can be carefully washed off, and genetically altering the plant to produce it internally.
Remember this: the GMO Bt toxin is not sprayed on the plant, the plant is genetically altered to produce it in EVERY cell in the plant. It is simply impossible to wash off. And if you eat any GMO Bt crops, such as corn or cottonseed oil, you will most definitely have this toxin enter your body. Remember, it was never designed to be in your body and there have been no studies performed that confirm its safety in this setting.
Bt crops have the Bt-toxin gene built-in, so the toxin cannot be washed off. You simply cannot avoid consuming it. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray. If Bt genes are indeed capable of transferring horizontally to the bacteria colonizing the human digestive tract, scientists believe it could reasonably result in:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Autoimmune diseases
- Food allergies
- Childhood learning disorders
Already, there’s plenty of other evidence showing that the Bt toxin produced in GM corn (and cotton plants) is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy, mice fed Monsanto’s Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:9
- Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
- An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to MS and cancer
- Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis and connective tissue diseases
Rats fed another of Monsanto’s Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes and white blood cells.10 These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver and kidney toxicity.
Bt Corn Is Only One of Monsanto’s Dastardly Creations…
When it comes to products with the potential to devastate the planet, Monsanto takes the cake. This company has single-handedly created some of the most destructive products known to man, including polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, and dioxin- and 2,4-D-containing Agent Orange. Furthermore, in addition to Bt corn, they’ve also created Roundup Ready corn and soy, which are engineered to withstand contamination with otherwise lethal doses of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup.
Massive acreage of soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the US contain the GM Roundup Ready gene — and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Roundup each and every year. It’s now estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 US states are now herbicide-resistant, and, like the resistant pests, the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.
A 2012 nutritional analysis of GM versus non-GM corn shows shocking differences in nutritional content. Non-GM corn contains 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GM corn, raising alarming red flags that GM food is not substantially equivalent to non-GM food, as we have been led to believe. It’s important to realize that GM foods have never been proven safe for human consumption over a lifetime, let alone over generations — and if we don’t take action soon, the entire planet could soon become contaminated with these toxic seeds, leading to the complete destruction of the natural food supply.
Join Us in Your Right to Know by Getting GMOs Labeled!
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. In the past few weeks, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO-labeling bills, and 20 other states have pending legislation to label genetically engineered foods. So, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and get labeling across the country—something 64 other countries already have.