A second species of worm has evolved to withstand pesticides in genetically modified crops, the latest escalation of the natural arms race spurred on by GMOs. “Armyworms” — so called because their infestation of fields resembles a military onslaught — were able to eat DuPont-Dow corn containing a pesticide protein without adverse effects, according to a field trial conducted in Florida this year.
Rootworms in the Midwest have already developed resistance to a different GM corn produced by Monsanto Company. This latest breed of armyworms adds to the mounting evidence that insects are following the evolutionary path of “super weeds,” which are now immune to herbicides in GMO crops and present a serious problem for farmers.
Monsanto and DuPont marketed their products as a way to reduce toxic chemical use on plants. These new findings contradict that claim, as these superweeds and superworms force farmers to deploy even heavier doses of potent chemicals — as much as 527 million pounds of herbicides alone since 1996. Bloomberg reports:
“This is most likely field resistance,” Fangneng Huang, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, said at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America. […] Concern that the insecticides are failing is prompting farmers to apply more chemicals, unwinding the primary environmental benefit of pest-fighting crops, Michael Gray, an entomologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said in a Nov. 14 presentation at the conference.
Monsanto and DuPont led a multi-million dollar campaign against California’s GMO labeling proposition, helping to ensure its defeat earlier this month. California is the 21st state that has tried and failed to pass GMO labeling legislation within the past year.