Kevin Steffey (BS ’72) was one of ten ECB team members and eight associate team members awarded the Integrative Pest Management Team Award (sponsored by Dow AgroSciences).
The European Corn Borer Team documented a 6.9 billion dollar cumulative benefit to U.S. corn producers resulting from 14 years of area-wide suppression of the pest Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner) following the adoption of transgenic corn, specifically corn hybrids expressing one or more insecticidal proteins of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The team found a significant decline in ECB larval and moth populations for five major corn-growing states in the central U.S. Corn Belt. The team had access to, or collected, long-term (50+ years) larval and moth population data that allowed a quantitative analysis of population change before and after the introduction of Bt corn. In brief, the area-wide suppression occurs over time because Bt corn, as a form of host plant resistance, continues to be highly effective, providing virtually 100% control of the pest with no field-evolved resistance to Bt. The analysis confirmed that in addition to the direct benefits to Bt corn producers, nearly 63% of the savings ($4.9 billion) actually accrued to non-Bt corn growers. The team’s findings were reported by Science, NPR, the Associated Press, German Public Radio, and other news outlets.