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GMO pests – are they goodies, or baddies?



August 19, 2015

CSIRO_ScienceImage_1144_Diamond_back_moth_Plutella_xylostellaGMO crops quickly raise fear and anger among many horticultural greenies. But would you feel the same way about problem insect pests that have been genetically modified so that their populations crash?

Oxitec, the development company associated with Oxford University has genetically modified the Diamondback or Cabbage Moth, a serious and world-wide pest of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and kale, especially where they are grown in intensive production like greenhouses.

By introducing a self-limiting gene which doesn’t alter moth behaviour but produces only male offspring, populations of the pest moth in a test greenhouse plummeted within 6-8 weeks. The same genetic modification self-limiting technique has been used on dengue-fever mosquitoes in Brazil and Panama, resulting in a 90% drop in numbers.

So how do you feel about using genetic modification to reduce the requirement for pesticides and increase food-growing productivity? Is this GMO a baddy or a goody?

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