Nature outsmarts genetically modified crops

by Anna Knapp
October 2, 2011

The organic food movement is all about ingesting food that is free of poisons. Conventional food is promoted as 1) being fresher longer due to genetic modification and 2) helping farmers keep more of the crops they plant, using plants that kill the pests that try to eat them, all while ignoring the need to understand the effects of ingestion of these foods. Buying local and organic at places such as Down to Earth, Garden Patch, the Farmer’s Market, and the Purple Porch Co-op, to name a few, is essential after learning of the scientific findings of this past summer.

According to Tom Philpott of Mother Jones, the industry that supports the genetic modification of our food has taken a hit this past growing season. It has been found that Monsanto’s Bt corn is not immune to pests’ destruction. In late July, scientists in Iowa found that the major pests that affect corn plants, corn rootworms, have been devouring genetically modified corn plants. Monsanto’s Bt corn has been designed to be toxic to these pests, but as usual nature always finds a way. The rise in these superinsects has also been affecting crops in Illinois and Minnesota.

A 2008 study was conducted by the University of Missouri and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on these rootworms. They found that within three generations, rootworms that ate Monsanto’s Bt corn were thriving at the same rate as rootworms that ate pesticide-free corn. It truly is amazing to watch nature at work.

So what’s next? More pesticides in our food? It is clear that nature trumps all and that no matter how much poison is genetically modified into our food, nature will always win out. If this version of Bt corn doesn’t stop the pests, and Monsanto tries yet again to create a stronger version, how much poison will have to go in the next batch? All the more reason to buy organic!