US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines on the planting of non-transgenic “refuges”—areas in which a non-transgenic crop is grown to allow survival of susceptible insects—adjacent to genetically modified (GM) crops could actually increase the risk of pests acquiring resistance to the GM crops, according to a report published in the May 10 online edition of PNAS.

The results would also “throw away” the idea of using GM and non-GM mixed seeds in developing countries as an alternate solution for land-hungry refuges not available to small-scale Third World farmers, according to Charles F. Chilcutt and Bruce E. Tabashnik, authors of the report. Such a mixed method was thought to create “mini-refuges” among the GM crop.

Along with six non-transgenic commercial hybrids, the authors studied six transgenic hybrids producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin Cry1-Ab—a benign pesticide that does not affect mammals, birds, or fish, said Chilcutt. “It's a very useful...

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