The use of mixtures of transgenic insecticidal seed and nontransgenic seed to provide an in-field refuge for susceptible insects in insect-resistance-management (IRM) plans has been considered for at least two decades. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has only recently authorized the practice. This commentary explores issues that regulators, industry, and other stakeholders should consider as the use of biotechnology increases and seed mixtures are implemented as a major tactic for IRM. We discuss how block refuges and seed mixtures in transgenic insecticidal corn, Zea mays L., production will influence integrated pest management (IPM) and the evolution of pest resistance. We conclude that seed mixtures will make pest monitoring more difficult and that seed mixtures may make IRM riskier because of larval behavior and greater adoption of insecticidal corn. Conversely, block refuges present a different suite of risks because of adult pest behavior and the lower compliance with IRM rules expected from farmers. It is likely that secondary pests not targeted by the insecticidal corn as well as natural enemies will respond differently to block refuges and seed mixtures.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2