2001 May Make, Break Future For Bt Crops

No-tillers and other growers using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn or cotton seed need to make sure they do a good job of following all of the essential rules and regulations this year.

That’s because what happens during planting and spraying this year will have a big impact on future usage since both Bt corn and cotton registrations expire this year. Environmental Protection Agency staffers maintain adherence to the refuge requirements will play a key role in whether the technology is approved for continued use.

However, refuge requirements are just one part of a grower’s integrated resistance management plan. As a result, extensive communication and education among dealers, extension personnel and industry representatives about all aspects of growing Bt crops is essential.

“Farmers across the country know the benefits of biotechnology are real and very significant — not just for agriculture, but for consumers as well,” says Lee Klein, a farmer from Battle Creek, Neb., and president of the National Corn Growers Association. “For example, corn and cotton products that carry the Bt trait provide these crops with natural resistance to pests that can cause tremendous damage. This in-plant protection provides a terrific environmental benefit because it lets farmers use less pesticide in a more precise manner.”

Ron Heck, who farms at Perry, Iowa, says Bt corn provides a safe, economical and environmentally friendly option for controlling these pests. “That’s why we maximized our use of Bt hybrids approved for food, feed and export for 200l,” he says.

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