Farmers in the big corn states watch in dismay as their “bug proofed” corn once again is being eaten by rootworms. As evolution would have it, the Western rootworm beetle, one of the most serious threats to corn, has developed resistance to the bioengineered “Roundup ready” crop, and is picnicking once again on corn roots.
Currently, three fourth’s of our nation’s corn crop are genetically modified, but thousands of farmers in the United States are wondering if they should switch back to older methods of pest control, like changing back and forth from corn to soy each year, because these rootworm beetles feed solely on corn. If the worms hatch in soybean fields they quickly die.
Farmer’s options, unfortunately, are becoming more limited than in recent years. One major contention for farmers is that they face lawsuits if they try to save and replant genetically modified seed because they don’t “own” the technology, yet most don’t complain when they reap in the profits from the Roundup Ready crops.
In the United States, current estimates show that 30 of the 80 million acres of corn are infested with these corn rootworms. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates this infestation can cause a billion dollars in lost revenue each year. The Western corn rootworm was also brought to Europe in the early 1990’s. Most European countries now require labeling of imported GMO foods, but there’s no such labeling in the United States. GMO veggies are sometimes referred to as a Trojan horse, and there’s virtually no way to recall them should they “breed” their own crisis.
Over the past 15 years, Monsanto has built up its seed empire by focusing its technology on widely planted crops like corn, soy, and cotton. Large scale farmers of these commodities, operating on very thin profit margins, jumped at the chance to streamline their operations by farming out their pest management to Monsanto, but now the this is wearing thin. Dumping one kind of herbicide onto millions of acres of farmland has also given rise to “super weeds” that are resistant to that herbicide. Farmers are now resorting to highly toxic herbicide and pesticide concoctions, and some are even hand-weeding.
In case you’re not in the know, Monsanto corn is a wicked, laboratory created combination of toxic pesticide and seedlings, and the end result is what many organic consumers nicknamed Franken-corn. According to the Journal of Pesticide Reform , Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate can cause eye and skin irritation, dizziness, heart palpitations, salivary lesions, and stomach lining irritation.
A 1998 study on mice concluded that Roundup is able to cause genetic damage. A 2011 report by Earth Open Source asserts that glyphosate has caused birth defects in laboratory animals. So, should humans really be eating fruits and vegetables that genetically contain this pesticide?
In addition to unwanted vegetation, glyphosate inhibits growth and development of mycorrhizal fungi, the microbe that fixes nitrogen in the soil and makes it available to plants, so this soil is now tainted for years. Glyphosate has also been linked to genetic damage, cancer, and negative reproductive effects, like miscarriage and reduced sperm count.
The latest “solution” is to genetically modify crops to resist the weed killer 2,4-D, which has exponentially more toxicity to mammals than Roundup. Initially formulated for weed control in 1947, 2,4-D is comprised of 50% of the ingredients in Agent Orange, which is infamous for its massive destructiveness in Vietnam.
For now, it seems as though nature herself is pulling in the reigns. Just as Roundup-resistant super weeds rapidly bloomed into a major problem over the past ten years, the new super insects may be just getting started.
S. D. Wells