by Julie Wilson
(NaturalNews) With four successive quarters of declining agricultural sales in Brazil, 2015 isn’t looking so good for the world’s fourth largest chemical company. The decrease in revenue, which dropped over 4 percent from October to December last year, is being attributed to pests’ resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops, particularly armyworms, an insect commonly found in pastures and known for foraging on crops and other plants at an alarmingly fast rate.
Now the second insects to become resistant to GM crops, armyworms have developed the ability to ingest (and survive) corn genetically engineered to kill them. As Natural News reported over the summer, Monsanto’s Bt cotton failed miserably at eradicating the bollworm, instead encouraging insect resistance in a variety of bollworms including American, pink and spotted bollworms.
A study published November 17 in the PLOS ONE online journal reported that fall armyworms in the southeastern U.S. have developed resistance to the Cry1F protein found in many corn products created by Dow AgroSciences and DuPont aimed at killing armyworms.
Failing GMO crops prompt farmers to apply more pesticides
So far, resistant armyworms have been identified in southeastern states, as they cannot survive winter freezes. However, their range is still unknown, according to researchers.
Similar to the way “super weeds” have developed resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides, and as a result are taking over farmers’ fields, armyworms are rapidly devouring corn crops that should repel them, according to Dominic Reisig, an entomologist at North Carolina State University who specializes in insects that post a threat to crops.
Monsanto’s Bt corn contains active Bacillus thuringiensis genes, which when eaten by armyworms is supposed to create an enzyme in the insect’s digestive tract, killing the worm within two or three days.
After learning of the armyworm infestation from North Carolina farmers, Reisig took some to his lab where he created a colony of the insects, according to a report by Phys.org. He also grew two varieties of corn in his greenhouse, some Bt and some non-Bt.
Resistant pest outbreak taking over America’s crops?
Reisig fed the two types of corn to the “normal” armyworms and to the armyworms he brought back from North Carolina. Both armyworms were able to consume the non-Bt corn. However, while the normal armyworms died subsequently after eating the Bt corn, the North Carolina armyworms devoured their way through it, showing no signs of slowing down.
Before Reisig’s experiment, no armyworms resistant to Bt corn had been found north of Louisiana or Florida. The new finding rings alarm bells for farmers everywhere.
“This is a huge wake-up call for farmers north of Louisiana and Florida — this is definitely something to keep an eye on,” said Reisig. “Resistance happens, and it’s a stark reminder that we need to take steps — such as planting non-Bt ‘refuge’ crops near the Bt crops — to limit the development of resistant insect strains.”
In 2006, fall armyworm resistance was first discovered in Puerto Rico, prompting Dow and DuPont to voluntarily withdraw their products on the island, reports Bloomberg.
Farmers in Brazil switch to soybeans as Monsanto’s Bt corn fails due to insect resistance
In Brazil, the fall armyworm’s growing resistance to Bt corn is prompting farmers to switch to other crops like soybeans, a move that’s costing DuPont an arm and a leg. The Delaware-based chemical company is forecasting a 10 percent drop in sales, and a 25 percent dip in earnings during the first three months of 2015.
Market sales for corn seeds in Brazil are lower than they were previously, reflecting the impact of armyworm resistance. DuPont announced plans to expand its cost-cutting plan to $1.3 billion by the end of 2017 in accordance with falling corn prices.