Managing European Corn Borer Resistance to Bt Corn with Dynamic Refuges

  • Silvia Secchi
  • Terrance M. Hurley
  • Bruce A. Babcock
  • Richard L. Hellmich
Part of the Natural Resource Management and Policy book series (NRMP, volume 30)


Genetically engineered Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn provides farmers with a new tool for controlling the European corn borer (ECB). The high efficacy and potential rapid adoption of Bt corn has raised concerns that the ECB will develop resistance to Bt. The Environmental Protection Agency has responded to these concerns by requiring farmers to plant refuge corn. Current refuge requirements are based on models that do not consider the value of dynamically varying refuge in response to increased scarcity and diminished control over time or the importance of backstop technologies currently being developed. The purpose of this chapter is to evaluate dynamically optimal refuge requirements with the arrival of alternative backstop technologies and to compare the results to an optimal static refuge policy. The results show that a dynamically optimal refuge requirement provides only modest benefits above a static optimum. The results also show how the type of backstop technology and characteristics of ECB population dynamics affect the optimal refuge requirement.

Key words

Bt corn refuge strategy optimal control pesticide resistance 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alstad, D.N., and D.A. Andow. 1995. “Managing the Evolution of Insect Resistance to Transgenic Plants.” Science 268(5219): 1984–1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ____. 1996. “Evolution of Insect Resistance to Bacillus Thuringiensis-Transformed Plants.” Science 273(5280): 1413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Calvin, D.D. 1995. “Economic Benefits of Transgenic Corn Hybrids for European Corn Borer Management in the United States: A Report to the Monsanto Company.” Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, J.S., and G.A. Carlson. 1990. “Testing for Common Versus Private Property: The Case of Pesticide Resistance.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 19(1):45–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. EPA [see U.S. Environmental Protection Agency].Google Scholar
  6. Gould, F. 1998. “Sustainability of Transgenic Insecticidal Cultivars: Integrating Pest Genetics and Ecology.” Annual Review of Entomology 43(1): 701–726.PubMedCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Hartl, D.L. 1988. A Primer of Population Genetics (2nd ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer and Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  8. Hueth, D., and U. Regev. 1974. “Optimal Agricultural Pest Management with Increasing Pest Resistance.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 56(3): 543–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hurley T.M., B.A. Babcock, and R.L. Hellmich. 2001. “Bt crops and Insect Resistance: An Economic Assessment of Refuges.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 26(1): 176–194.Google Scholar
  10. Hurley T.M., S. Secchi, B.A. Babcock, and R.L. Hellmich. 1999. “Managing the Risk of European Corn Borer Resistance to Transgenic Corn: An Assessment of Refuge Recommendations.” Staff Report No. 99-SR88, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.Google Scholar
  11. ILS1/HESI. 1999. An Evaluation of Insect Resistance Management in Bt Field Corn: A Science Based Framework for Risk Assessment and Risk management. Washington, D.C.: ILSI Press.Google Scholar
  12. Livingston M.J., G.A. Carlson, and P.L. Fackler. 2000. “BT Cotton Refuge Policy.” Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, July 30–August 2, in Tampa, Florida. Available online at (accessed August 18, 2000).Google Scholar
  13. Mason, C.E., M.E. Rice, D.D. Calvin, J.W. Van Duyn, W.B. Showers, W.D. Hutchison, J.F. Witkowski, R.A. Higgins, D.W. Onstad, and G.P. Dively. 1996. European Corn Borer Ecology and Management. North Central Regional Extension Publication No. 327, Iowa State University, Ames IA.Google Scholar
  14. Onstad, D.W., and F. Gould. 1998a. “Do Dynamics of Crop Maturation and Herbivorous Insect Life Cycle Influence the Risk of Adaptation to Toxins in Transgenic Host Plants?” Environmental Entomology 27(3): 515–522.Google Scholar
  15. ____. 1998b. “Modeling the Dynamics of Adaptation to Transgenic Maize by European Corn Borer (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae).” Journal of Economic Entomology 91(3): 585–593.Google Scholar
  16. Ostlie, K.R., W.D. Hutchison, and R.L. Hellmich. 1997. “Bt Corn and the European Corn Borer.” NCR Publication No. 602, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.Google Scholar
  17. Press, W.H., S.A. Teukolsky, W.T. Vetterling, and B.P. Flannery. 1992. Numerical Recipes in C: The Art of Scientific Computing (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Regev, U., A.P. Gutierrez, and G. Feder. 1976. “Pests as a Common Property Resource: A Case Study of Alfalfa Weevil Control.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 58(2): 186–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Regev, U., H. Shalit, and A.P. Gutierrrez. 1983. “On the Optimal Allocation of Pesticides with Increasing Resistance: The Case of the Alfalfa Weevil.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 10(1): 86–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roush, R., and G. Osmond. 1996. “Managing Resistance to Transgenic Crops.” In N. Carozzi and M. Koziel, eds., Advances in Insect Control: The Role of Transgenic Plants. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  21. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2004. “Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.” Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. Available online at (accessed April 8, 2005).Google Scholar
  22. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1998a. The Environmental Protection Agency’s White Paper on Bt Plant-pesticide Resistance Management. Washington, D.C: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  23. ____. 1998b. Sub-panel on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Plant-Pesticide and Resistance Management, FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel, February 9–10 (Docket No. OPP 00231).Google Scholar
  24. ____. 2005. “Current and Previously Registered Section 3 PIP Registrations.” Available online at (accessed April 11, 2005).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Secchi
    • 1
  • Terrance M. Hurley
    • 2
  • Bruce A. Babcock
    • 1
  • Richard L. Hellmich
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Iowa State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaUSA
  3. 3.USDA Agricultural Research ServiceUSA

Personalised recommendations