Resistance to Bt Genetically Modified Crops found in 5 major pests

Photo Credit: Clinton & Charles Robertson Photo Credit: Clinton & Charles Robertson

Since the introduction of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into genetically modified (GM) crops in 1996, scientists have feared that the widespread of use of Bt would spur rapid evolution of resistance in pests.  Now, with over a billion acres of Bt corn and cotton, researchers Bruce Tabashnik, Thierry Brevault, and Yves Carriere, examine the biological reality of these fears in their study “Insect resistance to Bt crops: lessons from the first billion acres”, which was recently published in Nature Biotechnology.

The study examines 77 studies from 5 continents that monitor Bt crop data for resistance, and finds cases of field-evolved resistance to Bt crops in five of the 13 major pest species examined.  This means that resistance is developing rapidly in some species, because in 2005 only one pest was documented as having developed Bt resistance.  The researchers hope that these results will encourage a proactive on resistance development in the future.