Thursday, 16 July 2015

Genetically engineered moths could be released in Britain to save crops

Research shows that releasing moths which only produce male offspring causes population crashes

Genetically engineered moths could be released into the British countryside 

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

1:00AM BST 16 Jul 2015

Genetically engineered moths could be released in Britain to prevent devastating damage to broccoli and kale crops, scientists have claimed.

Researchers from Oxford University spinoff Oxitec, have tweaked the genes of the insects so that they only produce male offspring.

Tests in greenhouses have shown that releasing GM diamondback or cabbage moths causes populations to crash quickly, limiting damage from caterpillars. New results show that levels had been controlled within just eight weeks.

Now scientists are set to carry out new outdoor trials in New York State after gaining approval from the US Department of Agriculture.

“This research is opening new doors for the future of farming with pest control methods that are non-toxic and pesticide-free,” said Dr Neil Morrison, lead Research Scientist at Oxitec.

“We all share an interest in safe and environmentally friendly pest control, so this is a very promising tool that could be put to good use by farmers as part of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for healthy and sustainable agriculture.”

The self-limiting gene technique has already been trialled against dengue fever-carrying mosquitos, successfully reducing their populations by over 90 per cent in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands

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