Daily News Archive

UK Report Warns About Insect Resistance
(from August 7, 2002)

According to BBC News, a new UK report warns that as many as 540 insect species have become resistant to at least one class of insecticide. Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre released the report calling for "new science-based tools for insect control." Director of Rothamsted Research and one of the report authors, Ian Crute, told BBC News that, "Just as human health is under threat from antibiotic resistance, crop health is under threat from insecticide resistance."

Environmentalist charge that the U.S. EPA review process is flawed in regards to insect resistance. Historically, the agency has allowed the release of synthetic toxic materials into the environment without a full assessment as to the efficacy of these products over the long term. The result has been the release of hazardous materials, including arsenic, organochlorine, organophosphate, carbamate, synthetic pyrethroid and other chemical families, that over time have severely lost efficacy, while leaving a trail of adverse toxic effects. Many in the scientific community have said that very slow processes may be taking place now that are inherently very unpredictable and dangerous.

Herbicide resistant crops have been shown to cross-pollinate with weeds in the same family, creating super-weeds that are also resistant to herbicides. This can potentially lead to ineffective increased herbicide use because farmers will spray the superweeds repeatedly, unaware that the weeds are herbicide-resistant. Also, weeds that have cross-pollinated with GE crops bred to resist insect may become invasive, spreading beyond their natural habitat and out-competing native plants.