Indian silk farmers testing genetically modified, disease resistant silkworm

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A quiet movement from traditionally known ways of raising silkworms to inserting new genes to strengthen them against Grasserie disease, which causes a loss of 20% annually, is under way at the Central Sericulture Research and Training Institute (CSRTI) in Mysuru’s Srirampura.

The institute is testing a transgenic, the first-of-its kind in India, which will eventually help fight off BmNPV (Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus), which causes Grasserie disease.

According to a textile ministry document, the genetically modified worms “can prevent the losses caused by the Grasserie disease, which is responsible for up to 20% crop loss in silkworm”.

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According to a research paper from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), “since there are no specific preventive measures for the occurrence and spread of BmNPV infection other than sanitised breeding and rearing methods, the only commercial practice today is to discard large stocks of worms in case of infection.”

Silk farmers in Karnataka’s Silk City Ramanagaram, about 50km southwest of Bengaluru, say this year has been worse due to the Grasserie.

Read full, original post: Mysuru institute tests GM, disease-resistant silkworms

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