Most people don’t know what corn refuge is or can spot it when it’s looking at ‘em square in the eye. Neither could we before we were asked to go take pictures of some fields!
Before we can understand what corn refuge is, what is Bt corn? Bt corn is genetically modified to produce a protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. This corn variety is therefore resistant to the European corn borer pest. Corn refuge, or non-Bt corn, is not genetically modified; it is not resistant to the corn borer and other pests.
Farmers plant a small percentage of corn refuge alongside the Bt corn to protect the future of this biotechnology’s success and practice responsible pest management. Having a small portion of their land planted with corn refuge ensures the insects won’t become resistant to the modern seed. You can spot the corn refuge in this photo when you see the darker tassels.
Illinois farmers care about their land and the future of their land. They want to make sure the modern biotechnology on the farm isn’t abused. By planting this corn refuge and diversifying their seed, farmers are not only upholding sustainable practices, but they’re also feeding our friends and families.
Lauren Knapp & Jenna Richardson
IL Corn Summer Interns