Farmers are finding that they are using many more insecticides decades after genetically modified crops came into being. Ironically, the crops were engineered to be resistant to swarms of insects but it appears that nature has adapted and new chemicals are needed. The promises offered by genetically engineered corn ushered in an era of hope that chemicals would not be needed to protect produce from insects. While the figures suggest that crop insecticides decreased substantially through 2010, a resurgence in chemical use is now taking place. One of the biggest problems facing farmers across the corn belt in the US is that of the western corn rootworm.
Farmers are weighing the pros and cons of using insecticides to eradicate pests. The short-term projection for pesticide use is positive but there is a debate about the long-term benefits. Genetically modified corn has been designed to kill the corn rootworm but several types of resistant bugs have emerged – many farmers are using insecticides to eradicate them. Growers across the Midwest have been calling for a dual strategy to control the larvae: soil insecticide and rootworm killing corn need to be implemented side-by-side.
The bugs that are plaguing crops throughout the corn belt have resulted in farmers demanding more soil insecticides than ever before. Several leading insecticide manufacturers such as American Vanguard have reported net income boosts of 56% from 2011 – 2013. Leading insecticide brands such Aztec, 5G and Smart Choice are used on millions of acres of corn. The present concerns about rootworm have helped to boost the demand for pesticides across the US. The pesticide companies reject claims that genetically engineered corn and insecticides will produce resistant bugs. According to Monsanto, resistant rootworms are a rarity. Various measures need to be adopted in tandem with genetically modified crops, such as crop rotation, to avoid resistant bugs from developing.