Source: University of Illinois

The use of transgenic corn remained very high across Illinois and the United States during the 2010 growing season, reaching 82 percent and 86 percent of all planted corn acres, respectively. Since 2000, the use of transgenic corn has increased at a very steady rate and has become the dominant production input, fundamentally reshaping how producers manage insects and weeds. Although seed prices, along with other input costs, have risen steadily in the last decade and remain a concern, the current favorable commodity prices will continue to fuel the reliance on transgenic crops for the foreseeable future. Unless widespread resistance to Bt corn by an insect pest develops, demand should remain high for transgenic hybrids that increasingly offer broad-spectrum protection against lepidopteran pests and corn rootworms. 

Due to the diversity of Bt hybrids and differing refuge requirements, there is concern that refuge compliance will continue to erode as confusion and ambivalence increase. Slightly more than 20 percent of producers at the 2011 Classics indicated they did not establish a refuge according to the recommended guidelines. As refuge compliance decreases, the industry should anticipate increasing selection pressure on pest populations and their eventual adaptation to Bt hybrids. This would be a significant loss and helps to explain why the U.S. EPA is interested in moving forward with the use of seed mixtures as a refuge strategy for some Bt products — it ensures compliance.

Read more