GM Diamondback moth research has promise

Modifying the moth will cause a decline in the population. The moth produces a caterpillar that is voracious and very damaging to vegetable crops.

Of course the “organic fanatic” people see a problem and are anxious about losing their organic designation of a GM moth might fly onto their sacred lands.


2 responses to “GM Diamondback moth research has promise

  1. I’m not sure how the presence of animals that aren’t eaten would make the vegetable crops less “organically grown.” If that technicality exists, it should be easily fixed.

    I’m also not sure that gene splicing is a necessary or helpful way to control this moth. I suspect it’s like corn earworms. Discontinuing sprayings, rotating crops, and encouraging birds works better.

    • Priscilla,

      The problem is that the “organic” designation is not scientifically based – it is simply a marketing issue where anything (and everything) that might make affect the profitability of the group issuing the certification must be stomped on instantly. The “organic” marketing organizations nailed their colours to the mast being anti-GM many many years ago and cannot afford to take even a single step backwards now.

      As for managing DBM, this is a very very difficult insect to control without using insecticides as it will eat anything, making rotation a non issue. It reproduces so rapidly that natural predators cannot prevent severe economic crop damage and it evolves resistance to insecticides quite rapidly, such that there is already a large programme of management around insecticide use.

      Controlling numbers using sterile male techniques (where sterile males are reared and released to compete with fertile insects) has a long history of use with quite a lot of success in controlling insect numbers without insecticide use. However the costs of irradiating males and the reduction in fitness caused by the irradiation makes it inefficient and expensive, so only used for high value crops (fruit orchards commonly). This method effectively does the same thing and is much cheaper to deploy.

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