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Study pegs Bt corn's economic benefits at $7 billion

Bt is paying big benefits, for farmers who plant Bt corn hybrids and even for producers who don’t.

In a recent study published in the journal Science, agricultural researchers estimate farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin received cumulative economic benefits of nearly $7 billion between 1996 and 2009 through the planting of Bt corn hybrids, with benefits of more than $4 billion for non-Bt corn farmers alone.

Scientists estimated that in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, corn borer populations in adjacent non-Bt fields declined by 28 to 73 percent, with similar reductions recorded in Iowa and Nebraska.

Researchers attribute the collateral benefits to areawide suppression of corn borers.

In the February 2010 issue of Farm Industry News, we reported that Michael Gray, extension entomologist, University of Illinois, credits the low corn borer populations to the high use of Bt corn hybrids. (

Researchers noted that the value of the Bt technology highlights the importance of adherence to refuge requirements to slow the corn borer’s ability to develop resistance to Bt.

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