Corn and bug

With genetically modified seeds dominating the U.S. agricultural corn industry—from food to fuel—the incidents of farmer violations are also on the rise according to recent data released by the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee—a coalition of multinational corporations in the GMO industry including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and DuPont.

In an e-mail released by Monsanto—the world’s largest seed company—2011 saw a threefold increase in farmers violating requirements for planting GMO corn. Because the GMO corn creates its own toxic pesticide (Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt), the EPA requires the planting of an adjacent refuge area of non-Bt corn—a sort of refuge—to keep bugs from building immunity to the Bt corn.

But, according to the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee’s report, more than 40 percent of the farms inspected in 2011—up from just 15 percent in 2010—were not compliant with the EPA requirements, which may be related to the rapid spread of a Bt resistant rootworm discovered throughout GMO cornfields in the Midwest last summer. And glyphosate-resistant weeds are widespread, infecting as many as 20 million acres of corn and soybean according to data released by the Dow Chemical company. Glyphosate is the companion pesticide to Monsanto’s GMO seeds, commonly marketed as Roundup and the number one selling pesticide around the world.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, more than 83 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified, and nearly 80 percent of all processed foods contain GMO ingredients.

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Image: Alternative Heat