Integration of Insect-Resistant Genetically Modified Crops within IPM Programs

Volume 5 of the series Progress in Biological Control pp 41-85

Insecticidal Genetically Modified Crops and Insect Resistance Management (IRM)

  • Juan FerréAffiliated withUniversity of Valencia Email author 
  • , Jeroen Van RieAffiliated withBayer BioScience N.V.
  • , Susan C. MacintoshAffiliated withMacintosh & Associates, Inc.

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Economically important crops, such as maize and cotton, have been transformed with genes encoding insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to confer them protection against the most important insect pests. Of the 114 million hectares globally planted with GM crops in 2007, over one third are insect-resistant Bt crops, and the area keeps increasing every year. The potential for insects to evolve resistance to GM insecticidal plants is considered to be one of the main threats to this technology, since resistance to Bt sprayable products has been demonstrated. Insect resistance management plans for this new class of pesticides are encouraged and became mandatory in the USA. Of the several strategies considered, a high dose of the insecticidal protein along with an adjacent refuge plot of non-Bt plants has been chosen as the most effective. Second generation Bt cotton combines two insecticidal proteins with unique target sites. Such “pyramided” Bt crops hold great promise and, in combination with the high dose/refuge strategy, will likely confer maximum protection to the Bt crop technology against insect resistance. So far, no case of resistance evolution to Bt crops has been reported.