Sweet corn that’s been genetically modified to contain a natural insecticide is better for the environment than conventional sweet corn, according to a recently released study.
Researchers from New York, Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio and Georgia compared Bt sweet corn, which contains a protein from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium, to conventional sweet corn during 2010 and 2011.
The different locations took into account variations in climate and pest pressures.
In the study, they evaluated corn earworm pressures and marketability of genetically identical varieties, one with the Bt protein, one without, according to a news release.
The researchers found that regardless of geography, the Bt varieties outperformed even insecticide-treated conventional varieties.
One of the most dramatic results involved plots in New York.
In 2010, the Bt sweet corn plots yielded 99 percent to 100 percent marketable ears without a single spray, whereas the conventional plots received eight insecticide treatments and had only 18 percent marketable ears. An untreated check had 6 percent marketable ears.
The researchers published their work was published in a recent issue of the “Journal of Entomology.”
"Our data suggest that using Bt sweet corn will dramatically reduce the use of traditional insecticides," the authors said in the release. "Based on the performance of Bt field corn, growers should realize increased profits and there will be less risk to nontarget organisms, including natural enemies that help suppress pest densities."
Read more about the New York results at Cornell University.