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Recent USDA figures show 90 percent of corn is GM

Corn
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Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that over 90 percent of U.S. field corn is genetically modified. That figure has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

Most of the corn farmers plant has been embedded with a gene—usually from a bacteria—that protects the corn from pests or herbicides.

Ten years ago, less than half of the corn planted had a genetically modified trait. Today, 93 percent of all field corn does, up from 90 percent last year.

Iowa State University extension agronomist Mark Johnson says that’s partly because the first genetically modified seed successfully fought a bug called the European corn borer.
"The first one was very, very, very effective," he said, "it’s what we call high dose. And so there’s never been any resistance found anywhere. And so that made the adoption of the other ones so much more rapid."

Johnson says subsequent traits for corn rootworm and herbicides haven’t been as successful, leading to resistance in some pests and plants. He says there will always be some farmers who reject genetically modified seed. And as corn prices drop, others may find the math no longer adds up for the expensive traits.
 

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.
Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and the push and pull for resources has serious ramifications for our country’s economic recovery and prosperity. Today’s emerging agenda for agriculture is headlined by energy and climate change, food safety, biofuels, animal production and welfare, human health, water quality, and local food systems. By examining these local, regional and national issues and their implications, Harvest Public Media seeks to create a rich multimedia resource devoted to food, fuel and field.
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