Biotech crops vs. pests: Successes and failures from the first billion acres

June 17, 2013 |

In Arizona, University of Arizona researchers have examined data from 77 studies of 13 pest species in eight countries on five continents, looking at the development of pest resistance to Bt crops. Their report indicates that in the worst cases, resistance evolved in 2 to 3 years; but in the best cases, effectiveness of Bt crops has been sustained more than 15 years. One of the main conclusions is that evaluating two factors can help to gauge the risk of resistance before Bt crops are commercialized. “If the data indicate that the pest’s resistance is likely to be recessive and resistance is rare initially, the risk of rapid resistance evolution is low,” Bruce Tabashnik, with the Department of entomology at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with the  said. In such cases, setting aside a relatively small area of land for refuges can delay resistance substantially. Conversely, failure to meet one or both of these criteria signifies a higher risk of resistance.

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