Currently there is a recommendation as to how much non-Bt corn should be planted along with Bt corn to prevent resistance from happening. There is a watchdog group in the United States complaining to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the compliance rate of U.S. growers is too low. It has dropped to about 75 per cent compliance. They say this is too low. They say that unless the compliance rate increases that the EPA should not reregister Bt products in 2010. (See report by going to Too Many Farmers Growing Genetically Engineered Corn Not Complying with Key Environmental Requirements: Growers have a responsibility to guard this technology by planting non-Bt acres. Seed companies have a responsibility to protect this technology. They can do this by offering a price difference between Bt and non-Bt hybrids that reflects the difference in yield potential. And people advising producers on hybrid selection have a responsibility to help growers pick good refuge hybrids. They may have to do this by telling growers about some non-Bt hybrids that the competition sells. They can also advise growers to plant refuge hybrids on their lowest producing land whether that is headland or poorer land. This way the yield drag is less than if planted on the best ground. We all must do a better job of ensuring refuge planting to be able to continue using this technology. You may think that the regulators would not dare take this technology away from us. But they may slow up the release of new technology.
Whose responsibility is refuge hybrid planting?
Pat Lynch CCA (ON) is an independent crop consultant with over 35 years experience in Ontario agriculture. If you wish to ask specific crop production questions or respond directly to Pat, email him at patrick.lynch@ sympatico.ca
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