Biotech Updates

GE Diamondback Moth to Decrease the Pest's Population

June 15, 2012

Researchers at Oxitec, a British company, successfully developed genetically engineered (GE) Diamondback moth, which is known as one of the most damaging insects globally. The goal of the researchers was to prevent insects from spreading disease and damaging crops by developing sterile males that would mate with the females of the same species, which will eventually result to decrease in population.

"GM technology in agriculture is normally associated with modification of the food crop and giving it a competitive advantage in terms of boosting its defense against insects" commented Neil Morrison, Ph.D., leader of the Diamondback moth project in Oxitec, "but at Oxitec we have taken an alternative approach; we harness genetics to provide the effect we want without making any permanent change to the species and without the gene persisting in the environment. So rather than use a recombinant DNA approach to give the crop a competitive advantage we give the insect itself a distinct disadvantage, i.e. the inability to reproduce...This provides the potential for a safe and sustainable form of insect control."

The project is still at the initial phase The researchers said that it still has to go through a long process of development, evaluation, and consultation before the release of the GE insects.