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Crop Biotech Update

Suppression of Pink Bollworm on Non-Bt Cotton by Bt Cotton in China

August 3, 2012

Previous reports from the U.S. have shown that biotech crops with improved insect resistance from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) also suppressed insect infestation in nearby non-Bt crop fields. Thus, scientist Peng Wan from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues used 16 years of field data to determine if Bt cotton caused a "halo effect" against pink bollworm (Pectino gossypiella) in six provinces of the Yangtze River Valley in China.

In these provinces, the percentage of cotton hectares planted with Bt cotton increased from 9% in 2000 to 94% in 2009 and 2010. The team found that Bt cotton significantly decreased the population density of pink bollworm on non-Bt cotton, with net decreases of 91% for eggs and 95% for larvae on non-Bt cotton, after 11 years of planting Bt cotton. Insecticide sprays for bollworms were also reduced by 69%.

Read the open-access research article at PLosOne: