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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Bt Corn and Management of the European Corn Borer: Perspectives of a Research Entomologist

item Hellmich, Richard

Submitted to: Integrated Crop Management Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 19, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Transgenic corn hybrids could revolutionize management of the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis. These hybrids will help stabilize corn yields and will give producers one less worry -- hopefully for many years. Another benefit of these hybrids is that reduced insecticide applications will save producers money and will lead to a cleaner environment for producers' families and communities. The first generation of commercially available transgenic corn hybrids are derived from endotoxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that are very effective against European corn borer. Dramatic control of European corn borer on these plants, however, has many scientists concerned about high selection pressure due to toxins expressed by these plants and subsequent corn borer adaptation. Resistance management to prevent corn borer adaptation to these toxins is necessary to protect these valuable resources. Concern for pest insects adapting to transgenic toxins is warranted because selection experiments have demonstrated that insects can become resistant to Bt-derived insecticides. A growing consensus from the scientific community is that refuge will play a critical role in any resistance management program. Refuge is important because susceptible European corn borers from nontransgenic corn and other corn borer hosts, collectively these are called corn borer refuge, will mate with resistant corn borers from transgenic corn. Susceptible moths will dilute resistance genes if they are present in sufficient numbers. Research entomologists agree that any resistance management program for the European corn borer must include a refuge component. Educating producers about long-term benefits of resistance management is necessary to sustain this new technology.

Last Modified: 4/18/2015
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