With concerns growing about genetically altered crops both overseas and here in the states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently placed new restrictions on raising Bt corn.
Among the new rules is a requirement that farmers plant a 20 percent refuge area to non-Bt hybrids. In cotton producing regions, growers should continue to plant a 50 percent non-Bt corn refuge area.
While the size of the refuge previously varied according to product and geographic area, the industry recognized the need for a uniform, consistent plan that was protective, practical, flexible and one that growers can support and easily implement.
Field monitoring efforts with be expanded and focused in areas with high Bt corn density. Monitoring will also be done in areas historically prone to high corn borer pressure where the refuges are expected to be treated with insecticides.
EPA is encouraging growers to place a non-Bt refuge between Bt corn and habitats such as prairies, forests, conservation areas and roadsides to protect non-target insects. In some instances, there will be planting and sales restrictions on certain Bt corn products in areas with historically high levels of southwestern corn borer infestations.
The EPA requirements came out of recommendations made last April by the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Working Group. This is a consortium of companies and associations involved in the research, development and introduction of ag biotech products.
Environmentalists and farmers alike have praised the Bt corn planting restrictions to prevent insects from becoming resistant. About 30 percent of the corn grown…