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Pests Evolve to Eat Corn Designed to Kill Them

Corn rootworm is once again making a dent in farmers' crops

(Newser) - A hungry pest known as the western corn rootworm is gradually developing a resistance to genetically modified crops engineered to kill it, reports Nature . Entomologists say they're discovering more and more of the beetles that show no ill effects after chowing down on fields of Bt corn—so named... More »

Inside Ethanol's Quiet, Dirty Toll on Environment

Industry fumes over AP report

(Newser) - President Obama, and President Bush before him, fought hard to make ethanol a central part of American energy. But an AP investigation finds that the program as it stands may be doing far more environmental harm than good. The effort to grow corn for fuel has meant the destruction of... More »

As GMO Corn Weakens, Pesticides Are Back

Rootworms developing resistance to Monsanto gene

(Newser) - In 2003, Monsanto debuted corn seeds with a gene—Bt—that generates pest-killing toxins designed to resist the ravages of rootworm. Soil insecticide use cratered as a result, with only 9% of corn acreage nationwide treated with it in 2010, down from 25% in 2005. But then things started to... More »

Get Ready for the Biggest Corn Crop Since 1936

2012 drought sent prices soaring

(Newser) - Last year's drought sent corn prices soaring, and this year, US farmers are looking to take advantage of it. They're set to plant the biggest corn crop the country has seen since 1936, USA Today reports, sowing some 97.3 million acres of the commodity. Right now, corn... More »

Russia Bans Monsanto's GMO Corn

It cites new study raising fears of cancer

(Newser) - Russia won't be importing any genetically modified US corn from Monsanto for a while, after a new study suggested it raised the risk of cancer, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . Monsanto is calling the French study bogus and said the safety of its NK603 corn is "well established.... More »

As Corn Prices Jump, Cattle Fed Candy least that's what one Kentucky rancher is doing

(Newser) - If you're wary of the antibiotics and hormones fed to America's cattle, brace yourself: Some of them are also being fed candy. WPSD reports on one Kentucky rancher's "solution" to the exploding price of corn. The owner of Mayfield's United Livestock Commodities explains that "... More »

Drought-Ravaged Farmland Selling for More Than in 2011

Prices keep rising, thanks to federal subsidies, insurance payments

(Newser) - With a historically awful drought laying waste to fields across the country, you might think farmland prices would be down—but you'd be wrong. The average price of farmland in Iowa jumped 24% in the second quarter compared to last year, while in Illinois it rose 15%, according to... More »

How the Drought Could Actually Help Farms

Devastated corn could prompt change: William G. Moseley

(Newser) - The drought is devastating America's corn crops—but that could actually be a good thing, argues William G. Moseley in the New York Times . Right now, the Midwest is "dangerously focused" on corn and soybeans, and the lack of diversity "restricts our diets, degrades our soils, and... More »

USDA Declares Biggest Disaster Ever

One-third of America's counties now natural-disaster areas

(Newser) - It's a confirmation of just how brutal this season has been: The US Department of Agriculture yesterday declared the biggest disaster in its history, identifying 1,016 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas. That covers about a third of America's counties, notes Bloomberg . The apocalyptic-sounding declaration brings... More »

Bad News for Food Prices as Corn Crop Shrivels

This was supposed to be the best harvest in generations

(Newser) - This year saw the largest corn planting in 75 years, and only two months ago, experts predicted a record corn harvest that would send food prices downward. But those high hopes have given way to murmurs about the drought of 1988 ... and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Portions of... More »

Ethanol's Long Joyride Runs Out of Gas

Fuel additive faces first decline in 15 years

(Newser) - After 15 years of growth, ethanol production will fall this year and be flat next year, shocking an industry that has only known boom times for many years, reports the Wall Street Journal . Driven by government mandates, production of the corn-based fuel additive tripled from 2005 to 2011, reaching nearly... More »

Record Corn Harvest Could Sink Food Prices

Agriculture officials predict a bumper crop this year

(Newser) - Consumers could see some relief from higher food prices by late fall, if the latest government crop forecast holds up. The US Agriculture Department predicted today that corn production will total 14.8 billion bushels, with a record yield of 166 bushels per acre. That compares with 12.4 billion... More »

Environmentalists Fear New Biotech Corn

Dow's 'Enlist' resists powerful herbicide

(Newser) - Debate is raging over a new biotech corn engineered by Dow Chemical. The corn, called "Enlist," is intended to solve farmers' struggle against tough weeds; that's because it's resistant to a powerful herbicide, also made by Dow. But environmentalists fear that wind, heat, and humidity would... More »

Potatoes Make Junk Food —but They're Not Junk

Mark Bittman: Corn, potatoes don't deserve their bad rap

(Newser) - Corn and potatoes get a bad rap, due to the fact that we mainly consume them in junk food form. But corn and potatoes themselves are, Mark Bittman reminds us in the New York Times , "real food"—unlike, say, Pringles, which are potato chips that contain just 42%... More »

Seed Shortage Buries Hopes for Record Corn Crop

Corn prices may hit record high this year

(Newser) - American farmers had been planning the biggest corn planting since World War II this spring, but they're being thwarted by a seed shortage. Drought conditions in the Midwest and Great Plains last year have caused what dealers in the corn belt say is the biggest shortage of top-quality seeds... More »

Uh-Oh: Bugs Develop Resistance to Franken-Corn

Genetically modified crop no longer fends off all pests

(Newser) - Farmers in Iowa who planted corn seeds genetically modified to fend off the dreaded corn rootworm are seeing a troubling sign: The rootworm is apparently developing a resistance to the Monsanto seeds and gobbling up cornfields again, say Iowa University researchers. It's still just a small percentage of rootworms... More »

Forget Corn Syrup: Now It's 'Corn Sugar'

Makers hope name change will ease consumers' minds

(Newser) - The backlash against high-fructose corn syrup has finally led its makers to try out a new name: corn sugar. The Corn Refiners Association wants people to know that—according to its marketing campaign—"whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.... More »

Fiber-Rich Corn Offers Digestive, Uh, Benefit

Kernels act as 'snowplows' in intestine

(Newser) - Corn is an American staple—it helped the earliest settlers survive and has provided us with bread and meal ever since. Recently, though, corn has been portrayed in a more unfavorable light, whether as the source of high-fructose corn syrup or the recipient of ethanol subsidies. From a nutritional perspective,... More »

EPA Eyes Crackdown on Not-So-Green Biofuels

Turns out, it's greener to burn plants than to make ethanol

(Newser) - Plants consume carbon dioxide, so growing corn to produce ethanol should be at worst a zero-sum game, emissions-wise, right? Wrong, says the EPA. There's another factor involved: Turning food crops into fuel drives up their prices, which raises demand for farmland worldwide. In places like Brazil, that means chopping down... More »

New Super-Corn Packs Multi-Vitamins

Transgenic crop has increased amounts of beta carotene, folate and vitamin C

(Newser) - Scientists have genetically engineered a strain of corn that dramatically boosts the naturally occurring amounts of three critical vitamins, the Los Angeles Times reports. The enhanced strain of African white corn produces six times the vitamin C, double the amount of folate, and 169 times the beta carotene, a vitamin... More »

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