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EPA limits planting of GM corn to curb pest resistance

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

U.S. regulators for the first time are proposing limits on the planting of some genetically engineered corn to combat a voracious pest that has evolved to resist the bug-killing crops, a potential blow to makers of biotech seeds.

The measures proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency represent a bold step to thwart the corn rootworm, a bug that ranks among the most expensive crop threats to U.S. corn farmers.

The plan is aimed at widely grown corn varieties sold by Monsanto, the first to sell rootworm-resistant corn, and rival seed makers including DuPont and Dow Chemical. Such corn seeds have been genetically modified to secrete proteins that are toxic to destructive insects, but safe for human consumption, helping to reduce farmers’ reliance on synthetic pesticides.

The EPA’s proposal would require seed companies to limit some Midwestern farmers’ practice of sowing fields with corn year after year in areas harboring resistant rootworms, whose cream-colored larvae gnaw on corn roots and stunt plants’ growth. The EPA is concerned that if the resistance continues, it will lead farmers to use more synthetic chemicals to thwart the bug, creating environmental risks.

Representatives of the biotech-seed industry have criticized some parts of the proposal, which was released in January and is subject to a public-comment period until March 16, after which the EPA will finalize any new requirements.

Read full original article: Limits Sought on GMO Corn as Pest Resistance Grows

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