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Transgenic Corn for Control of the European Corn Borer and Corn Rootworms: a Survey of Midwestern Farmers’ Practices and Perceptions

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In 2001, a self-administered questionnaire was sent to 1000 corn, Zea mays L., farmers in each of five states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska) to evaluate their perceptions of transgenic corn designed to control the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), and corn rootworms, Diabrotica spp. Respondents returned 1,313 surveys (26.2%). Farmers with small acreages planted a greater portion of their corn (54.5%) with transgenic corn for control of European corn borer than farmers with large farms (39.2%). The majority (75.2%) of farmers use crop rotation to control the corn rootworm. Nine insecticides comprised 92.2% of the commercial soil insecticides used for control of corn rootworm larvae. More than one-third of the farmers in Illinois (33.5%) and Indiana (39.4%) treated first-year corn for corn rootworm, primarily due to western corn rootworm egg laying in soybean, Glycine max (L.). When asked whether they would plant transgenic corn protected against the corn rootworm, 35.0% of farmers responded they would, whereas 40.5% said they were unsure. The two greatest farmer concerns about transgenic corn were the ability to sell harvested grain (59.3%) and additional technology fees (54.8%). Respondents indicated that less farmer exposure to insecticide (69.9%) and less insecticide in the environment (68.5%) were the primary benefits of transgenic corn. Farmers who had no concerns about transgenic corn for rootworm control were more likely to purchase the product (46.8%). The most common refuge-planting options farmers favored were adjacent fields (30.9%) and split fields (29.9%). Farmers (21.1%) observed a yield increase (23.7 bu/ha [9.6 bu/acre]) when using transgenic corn for European corn borer control compared with nontransgenic corn. These data can help in understanding farmers’ knowledge and concerns regarding transgenic corn. This information may be of value to guide researchers, extension specialists, and policy makers in designing insect resistance management and integrated pest management programs.

Keywords: Bt; Diabrotica; Ostrinia nubilalis; maize; survey

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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