A problem for genetically modified crops that has nothing to do with environmentalists

Chinese cotton growers were among the first farmers to plant genetically modified (GM) cotton to resist bollworms (photo). Now, the substantial profits they reaped for several years by saving on pesticides have eroded.

The reason, according to Cornell University researchers is that other pests are attacking the GM cotton.

By year three, farmers who planted GM cotton cut pesticide use by more than 70% and had earnings 36% higher than farmers planting conventional cotton. By 2004, however, they sprayed as much as conventional farmers. This resulted in an average income of 8% less than conventional cotton farmers, because GM seed is triple the cost of conventional seed.

The problem is not that bollworms are developing resistance. It’s that secondary pests not targeted by the GM cotton are out of control.

This is significant and must be addressed.

Photo: SciDevNet

8/24/06 23:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.