Say Thanks To The Neighbors

Widespreed planting of genetically modified Bt corn in the upper Midwest has significantly reduced losses from European corn borer damage. Even growers that don’t plant transgenic corn have benefitted from neighboring use of these products.

The total economic benefit of Bt corn’s pest suppression in five Midwestern states between 1996 and 2009 totaled $6.9 billion. Yet when researchers looked at the data based on product usage, they found 62% of the economic benefit was gained in fields where non-Bt corn hybrids had not planted.

Thanks to Bt corn hybrids, corn borer numbers have dropped 28% to 73% in neighboring non-Bt fields in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. Smaller declines have occurred in Iowa and Nebraska.

Gain From Others

In Wisconsin alone, 75% of the state’s total economic benefit from Bt corn’s pest suppression has been earned by growers who do not plant transgenic hybrids.

The primary benefit of Bt corn is to reduce yield losses. So growers who plant non-Bt corn hybrids and avoid paying the tech fee experience the most yield savings when areawide corn borer populations are reduced.

While previous cost-benefit pesticide studies focused directly on transgenic crop acres, this is the first research project to include the value of pest suppression in all fields.

“We knew there was going to be a benefit, but we didn’t know it was going to be that high,” says University of Minnesota entomologist William Hutchinson. He believes some growers would benefit even if they only planted 50% of their corn acres to…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings