Regulating in response to evolution?

Corn rootworm larvae Image from

One of the questions that became apparent while writing Unnatural Selection was, could the risk of evolution become part of the regulatory process? Here is a bit of a Wall Street Journal article by Jacob Bunge reporting on EPA’s attempt to reign in evolution in response to rootworm-resistant corn (i.e. Bt corn.) A product that has been around for decades, and for which resistance was reported in one target pest nearly a decade ago; and soon followed by others. Huh. Well, its a start (whatever you might think of GMOs.)

“U.S. regulators for the first time are proposing limits on the planting of some genetically engineered corn to combat a voracious pest that has evolved to resist the bug-killing crops, a potential blow to makers of biotech seeds.

The measures proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency represent a bold step to thwart the corn rootworm, a bug that ranks among the most expensive crop threats to U.S. corn farmers.

The plan is aimed at widely grown corn varieties sold by Monsanto, the first to sell rootworm-resistant corn, and rival seed makers including DuPont andDow Chemical. Such corn seeds have been genetically modified to secrete proteins that are toxic to destructive insects, but safe for human consumption, helping to reduce farmers’ reliance on synthetic pesticides.”

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