17 January 2000
USA restricts GM crops

THE USA has imposed new restrictions on growing genetically modified (GM) maize in response to concerns about damage to the ecology.

The constraints will require farmers to plant 20-50% of their acreage in conventional maize.

The decision will cut back on growth of “Bt” corn, which has been altered with a gene that allows it to make its own insecticide.

There have been worries that Bt corn may speed up the evolution of “superbugs” – insects that are resistant to insecticides.

Another concern is that pollen from Bt corn can blow on to other plants nearby and prove fatal to the Monarch butterfly.

The new rules will take immediate effect in time for this years growing season.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the biotechnology industry and farmers had agreed to the agencys conditions.

Bt corn made up more than one-third of the US crop last year.