How to reduce pest tolerance to insect-resistant GM Bt crops? Breed the plants with conventional ones

reversingpes
More than 66,000 pink bollworm caterpillars were tested for this long-term study. Credit: Peng Wan

Insect pests that are rapidly adapting to genetically engineered crops threaten agriculture worldwide. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals the success of a surprising strategy for countering this problem: Hybridizing genetically engineered cotton with conventional cotton reduced resistance in the pink bollworm, a voracious global pest.

The study is the result of a long-standing collaboration between researchers at the University of Arizona and in China. Over 11 years, they tested more than 66,000 pink bollworm caterpillars from China’s Yangtze River Valley, a vast region of southeastern China that is home to millions of smallholder farmers.

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Seed packages containing various cotton seed mixes are for sale in China. Credit: Peng Wan

According to the study’s authors, this is the first reversal of substantial pest resistance to a Bt crop. “We have seen blips of resistance going up and down in a small area,” said senior author Bruce Tabashnik, a Regents’ Professor in the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But this isn’t a blip. Resistance had increased significantly across an entire region, then it decreased below detection level after this novel strategy was implemented.”

[Read the full study here (behind paywall)]

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Reversing pest resistance to biotech cotton: The secret is in the mix

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