Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2018) 115, 3320-3325

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Galen P. Dively, P. Dilip Venugopal, Dick Bean, Joanne Whalen, Kristian Holmstrom, Thomas P. Kuhar, Hélène B. Doughty, Terry Patton, William Cissel and William D. Hutchison (2018)
Regional pest suppression associated with widespread Bt maize adoption benefits vegetable growers
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115 (13), 3320-3325
Abstract: Transgenic crops containing the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes reduce pests and insecticide usage, promote biocontrol services, and economically benefit growers. Area-wide Bt adoption suppresses pests regionally, with declines expanding beyond the planted Bt crops into other non-Bt crop fields. However, the offsite benefits to growers of other crops from such regional suppression remain uncertain. With data spanning 1976–2016, we demonstrate that vegetable growers benefit via decreased crop damage and insecticide applications in relation to pest suppression in the Mid-Atlantic United States. We provide evidence for the regional suppression of Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), European corn borer, and Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), corn earworm, populations in association with widespread Bt maize adoption (1996–2016) and decreased economic levels for injury in vegetable crops [peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and sweet corn (Zea mays L., convar. saccharata)] compared with the pre-Bt period (1976–1995). Moth populations of both species significantly declined in association with widespread Bt maize (field corn) adoption, even as increased temperatures buffered the population reduction. We show marked decreases in the number of recommended insecticidal applications, insecticides applied, and O. nubilalis damage in vegetable crops in association with widespread Bt maize adoption. These offsite benefits to vegetable growers in the agricultural landscape have not been previously documented, and the positive impacts identified here expand on the reported ecological effects of Bt adoption. Our results also underscore the need to account for offsite economic benefits of pest suppression, in addition to the direct economic benefits of Bt crops.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website


Database assignments for author(s): Thomas P. Kuhar, William (Bill) D. Hutchison

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
application technology
general biology - morphology - evolution


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Ostrinia nubilalis Maize/corn (Zea mays)
Helicoverpa zea Maize/corn (Zea mays)
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Ostrinia nubilalis Maize/corn (Zea mays)
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Helicoverpa zea Maize/corn (Zea mays)