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Mar 19, 2010

India Reports Pest Resistance to BT Cotton

Pink-spotted bollworm moths and larvae
Photo: CSIRO, Australia
Science reports that in India, a new insect pest resistance has developed to Monsanto's gene-engineered BT cotton. Monsanto is quoted as acknowledging the resistance as “the first case of field-relevant resistance to Cry1Ac products, anywhere in the world."

On 5 March 2010, Monsanto issued a press release that during field monitoring of the 2009 cotton crop in Gujarat state, pink bollworms were found that were resistant to the insecticidal Cry1Ac protein that was engineered into the genetic structure of Monsanto’s GE Bollgard cotton, a first-generation GM hybrid expressing a single Bt protein. (Newer Bollgard II hybrids produce two Bt proteins.)

According to Monsanto, the resistance appears isolated. However, Monsanto recommends customers switch to Bollgard II as a matter of caution. In 2009, more than 65% of Indian farmers had already switched to Bollgard II, prior to learning about the resistance.

Several entomologists contest Monsanto’s assertion that this is the first instance of resistance to BT crops. Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, says that “nonindustry scientists had earlier reported resistance to Bt crops in South Africa and the United States.”

According to the Central Institute for Cotton, India is the second-largest cotton producer after China.

For more see: Bagla, Pallava. “Hardy Cotton Munching Pests Are Latest Blow to GM Crops,” Science, (19 March 2010) 327:5972, 1459.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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