GMO disease fighters: Zika-destroying GM mosquitoes may soon be joined by GM moths to quash cabbage and kale pest

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A half-inch-long moth that devours kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts may not inspire the same fear as a Zika-carrying mosquito, but the two insects have something in common. Both are being genetically tweaked by UK-based biotech firm Oxitec. [In 2016], the company made news when it proposed a Florida-based trial of a self-destructive mosquito—designed to stop the spread of Zika virus in native Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Now, Oxitec wants to test a genetically modified version of the male diamondback moth to mate with—and eventually destroy—a pest that damages $5 billion worth of cruciferous crops every year worldwide. Like the mosquito, the moth passed laboratory and greenhouse trials and now must pass approval in an open field test. But while the mosquito had to wind its way through the FDA, Oxitec’s moth faces a different set of regulatory hurdles at the USDA. Officials at that agency are currently reviewing whether to allow Cornell University and Oxitec to release tens of thousands of GM moths into a 10-acre site in New York.

Already, the diamondback moth has become resistant to 95 different chemical compounds. That’s a huge problem for growers in southern states like Georgia and Florida, where up to 15 generations of veggie-munching larvae are born every year on constantly rotating crop fields.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Oxitec pioneered the GM mosquito. Up next? Moths, of course

  • Kevin Patti

    Hey, anti-GM folks who say “it’s bout the chemicals,” this will help lower the amount of insecticides used in farming. That’s a good thing, right?