Areawide suppression of European corn borer with Bt maize reaps savings tonon-Bt maize growers: A new rationale for Bt maize adoption in Europe?


Abstract: Historically, the European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, has been the mostwidespread insect pest of maize in the U.S.; damage was typically estimated at more than$1billion per year. Due to the difficulty in monitoring for the pest, or timing insecticideapplications, most growers acquiesced and accepted annual yield losses. Beginning in 1996,transgenic maize, engineered to express insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillusthuringiensis (Bt) became one of the most widely adopted technologies in U.S. agriculture. In2010, Bt maize was planted on more than 22.2 million ha, constituting 63% of the U.S. crop.Using statistical analysis of per capita growth rate estimates (for 3 states; 1996-2009), it wasdetermined that areawide suppression of ECB was significantly associated with Bt maize use(Hutchison et al. 2010). Cumulative net revenues over 14 years, for 5 major maize producingstates (Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin) were conservatively estimated at $6.9billion (U.S.) for both the Bt maize and non-Bt maize hectares. However, ~$4.3 billion, or ca.62% of the total benefit accumulated on the non-Bt maize hectares. These value estimates areconservative in that they do not include additional savings that may have accrued as a result ofless disease pressure (stalk or ear fungal infections) or savings due to less insecticide use. Giventhe fact that the same target pest species occurs throughout much of the European maizeproducing countries, the possibility of similar areawide economic benefits are discussed.

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