Last year, farmers around the world planted genetically modified crops like soybeans, corn and cotton across 240 million acres of land that create proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium. Capable of killing pests like beetles and caterpillars, their effects on the environment and human health have long been the subject of much debate.
Those in favor of GMO crops – who tend to also be the ones who benefit from it financially – say that they will end world hunger, but now such lofty proclamations have been deflated as a new study shows that pests are quickly developing resistance to genetically modified crops. In just five years' time, scientists say that many bugs have gotten to the point where they can simply shrug off the poisons that are created by GM crops.
After looking at 36 cases examining how insects respond to crops that were modified to produce the insect-killing Bt protein, they discovered that bugs developed resistance that made the GM crops substantially less effective in 16 cases. Another three were starting to show "early warnings of resistance."