Pest Resistance on the Field, Grower Resistance on GMO Technology

Lower corn prices should result in a 10 percent reduction in area for the next Brazilian winter corn crop. But,this doesn’t seem to be the only reason behind the drop in high-tech GM seed sales. The loss of efficiency of GMO technologies, a structural problem, has also caused producers to return to conventional hybrids.

Last July, during the 2014 winter harvest season, the Association of Soybean and Corn Producers of the Mato Grosso region (Aprosoja) asked several GM seed suppliers for a financial reimbursement due to the loss of BT technology efficiency on GMO corn. Theoretically, these cultivars were supposed to be resistant to caterpillars, without the need for chemical control.

Growers confirm that, in the conventional corn areas, four applications were needed for insect control. In transgenic, they needed three. So, apart from the drop in productivity, the ‘unnecessary’ insecticide applications represented a non-budgeted cost for GMO corn producers. According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (IMEA), these extra costs have reached BRL 120/ha (ca. USD 50). A transgenic seed bag costs BRL 450, while conventional seeds run at around BRL 250.

For that reason, some Brazilian producers have considered going back to the conventional seed. This fact, allied to the expected reduction of the Brazilian corn area, has impacted the seed industry. Last quarter, several seed companies reported sales declines of 7 to 12 percent.

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