Crop Biotech Update

Mitigating Non-Compliance in Bt Corn Farmers

May 20, 2011

The increasing number of farmers not complying with the use of refuge along side their Bt corn fields have caused concern among researchers and technology developers. Michael E. Gray, a professor of agricultural entomology in the department of crop science and assistant dean in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at University of Illinois conducted a survey to determine the non-compliance status of farmers in Illinois.

Results showed that from 2003 to 2008, non compliant farmers disregarding Environmental Food Agency's (EPA) refuge directive has increased from 10% to 25%. Thus, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged EPA officials to put sanctions to non-compliant farmers by restricting or denying seed corn sales and to conduct regular field inspections.

Strategies being looked at to increase compliance in farmers include the use of seed mixtures called ‘refuge in a bag' that interperse non-Bt seed in every bag. Pioneer HiBred's Optimum® AcreMax™ made this technology available to growers this year, which contains 90 percent Bt seed and 10 percent refuge seed. Another strategy is the 95 percent Bt/5 percent refuge seed hybrid mixture called SmartStax™, which expresses several proteins that control corn rootworms, lepidopteran pests and herbicide tolerance and will be available in 2012.

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