by University of Arizona
Nicknamed the "billion-dollar beetle" for its enormous economic costs to growers in the United States each year, the western corn rootworm is one of the most devastating pests farmers face.
"They are quite insidious. They're in the soil gnawing away at the roots and cutting off the terminal ends of the roots—the lifeblood of corn," said Bruce Tabashnik, Regents Professor and head of the University of Arizona Department of Entomology. "And if they're damaging enough, the corn plants actually fall over."
Genetically modified crops have been an important tool in the battle against pests such as these, increasing yields while reducing farmers' reliance on broad-spectrum insecticides that can be harmful to people and the environment.