Seeds developed using biotechnology are planted on more than 90 percent of corn acres each year. First introduced in the 1990s, farmers rapidly adopted the use of these seeds thanks to their ability to control damaging insects and improve weed control. Biotechnology in corn has been used in two primary ways:
- Bt Corn, which is corn that has been genetically altered to express one or more proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bt corn is used to control damaging insects such as corn rootworm, corn earworm, western bean cutworm and more. The bacterium is lethal when ingested by these insects but does not impact humans.
- Herbicide-tolerant corn, which is corn that has been altered to be tolerant to certain herbicides. These traits in corn give farmers a greater ability to control weeds within their fields during the growing season, as the corn is not impacted by certain herbicides.
Both types of traits offer many benefits to both the grower and the environment. Bt corn has reduced the need for insecticide sprays to control insects during the growing season. Herbicide-tolerant traits have provided more options for growers to control weeds, reducing the need for tillage and contributing to a 58 percent reduction in soil loss per acre from 1980 – 2015.
Before seeds developed through biotechnology can be planted in the U.S., they must first undergo rigorous approval processes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This regulatory approval process often takes several years and costs seed developers millions of dollars.
Because U.S.-grown corn is exported all over the world, seed developers must also seek regulatory approval for biotechnology traits in any markets in which U.S. corn is imported. Farmers and others interested in the global approval status of corn biotech traits can learn more at www.biotradestatus.com
For more information on seeds derived using biotechnology:
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