The development and commercialization of insect-resistant transgenic Bt crops expressing Cry toxins revolutionized the history of agriculture. At the end of 2010, an estimated 26.3 million hectares of land were planted with crops containing the Bt gene (James 2011). Bt cotton has reduced the use of traditional insecticides by 207,900,000 lbs of active ingredient of insecticide (Brookes and Barfoot, 2006).
Resistance is a genetic change in the insect pest — that allows it to avoid harm from Bt toxins. The high and consistent levels of ICP production in the Bt plants make them much less favorable for the development of resistance. Insect Resistance Management is of great importance because of the threat insect resistance poses to the future use of Bt plant-incorporated protectants and is said to be the key to sustainable use of the genetically modified Bt crops. The US EPA usually requires a “buffer zone,” or a structured refuge of 20% non-Bt crops that is planted in close proximity to the Bt crops.
First documented case of insect resistance to Bt cotton came in 2008, when Tabashnik and coworkers found field-evolved Bt toxin resistance in bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), in the United States. Field-Evolved Resistance to Bt Maize by Western Corn Rootworm (Gassmann, 2011) displayed significantly higher survival on Cry3Bb1 maize in laboratory bioassays.
Expanded use of transgenic crops for insect control will likely include more varieties with combinations of two or more Bt toxins (pyramiding), novel Bt toxins such as VIP, modified Bt toxins that have been genetically engineered to kill insects resistant to standard Bt toxins. Transgenic plants that control insects via RNA interference are also under development.
Increasing use of transgenic crops in developing nations is likely, with a broadening range of genetically modified crops and target insect pests .Incorporating enhanced understanding of observed patterns of field-evolved resistance into future resistance management strategies can help to minimize the drawbacks and maximize the benefits of current and future generations of transgenic crops.