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Crop Biotech Update

Bt Cotton Adoption Promotes Biocontrol Services

June 22, 2012

For the past 16 years of planting Bt crops, it has been observed and proven that major insect pests are controlled thus reducing the need for broad-based insecticide sprays that also kill beneficial insects. Researcher Yanhui Lu from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues tested the hypothesis that the reduction in insecticide sprays due to Bt crops could improve biocontrol performance. The team used a 20-year data (1990-2010) at 36 sites in six provinces in northern China.

The team found out that there is a significant increase in the abundance of three insect predators namely ladybirds, lacewings, and spiders, and at the same time decrease in the abundance of aphid pests linked with the extensive planting of Bt cotton and reduced insecticide sprays in this crop. They also found evidence that insect predators could also bring biocontrol services spilling over from Bt cotton fields onto nearby fields of maize, peanut, and soybean.

More information are available at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11153.html.