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July 5th, 2018 / Farmers' Weekly

Andri Visser, a doctoral student at the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North-West University, explores how assumptions about the behaviour of the African stem borer affect the resistance management strategy and sustainability of Bt-maize.

he African stem borer has proved a formidable foe for maize producers in South Africa. In 2006, the first Busseola fusca populations resistant to Bt-maize were documented, a mere eight years after the commercial release of the genetically modified (GM) crop in South Africa.

At that stage, it was one of only three insect pest species in the world able to overcome a Bt-toxin, and has since rendered MON 810, the first Bt-event, impotent in most growing areas in South Africa.

With the release of the stacked Bt-event, MON 89034, the slate has been wiped clean:
all B. fusca populations are once again susceptible to the new Bt-maize.

This has offered researchers a rare second chance to better manage the sustainability of this crop for SA producers.

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu offers the following wisdom: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what we know, and what we think we know, about insect resistance management for Bt-crops. Read more