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North Central Region Technical Research Committee (NCR-46) on Corn Rootworms Offers Support for a Conditional Registration of Corn Rootworm Transgenic Event

June 7, 2002
In late May of 2002, a technical committee (NCR-46) of research and extension entomologists, along with selected cooperators, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offering their support for a conditional registration of a transgenic event (MON 863) that could serve as one of several management tactics for corn rootworms. Transgenic corn that expresses Cry3Bb has been evaluated for its ability to protect roots against larval feeding for several years by Monsanto Company scientists and entomologists within several land grant institutions, including the University of Illinois. If this transgenic event is approved by the EPA, significant reductions in soil insecticide use could be achieved. Rapid acceptance of this technology is anticipated, especially by producers in the western Corn Belt. If European export issues surrounding the use of transgenic hybrids can be resolved satisfactorily, rapid adoption of corn rootworm transgenic hybrids is expected in the eastern Corn Belt as well.

The NCR-46 committee acknowledges that additional data are needed to fully develop long-term resistance management plans. Therefore, the committee recommends an interim registration for MON 863 so that additional data can be generated to allow for the development of a "more robust long-term IRM plan." For now, and during an interim registration period, the NCR-46 committee is supportive of a proposed 20 percent refuge that must be placed within or adjacent to the transgenic field. During the next several years, entomologists will continue to collect important data that can be used to improve resistance management plans. Additional data are needed concerning beetle movement, emergence patterns, and fitness costs associated with emergence from transgenic plants. That's right: emergence patterns from transgenic plants. Studies conducted thus far with MON 863 clearly indicate that some survivors emerge from transgenic root tissue. This is considerably different from our experience with Bt hybrids and European corn borers, where mortality is extremely high. We have a long way to go regarding the evolving story of corn rootworms and transgenic management. We will surely have articles on this topic for many years to come.--Mike Gray and Kevin Steffey

Author: Kevin Steffey Mike Gray

The Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin
Executive Editor: Kevin Steffey, Extension Entomologist

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