Engineered ‘self-limiting’ insect could suppress soybean looper, ‘exponential’ threat to US crops

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chrysodeixis includens
Soybean looper larva making its signature looping motion. Image: Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida

Oxitec Ltd., a UK-based biotechnology company that pioneered the use of biologically-engineered insects to control disease-spreading mosquitoes and crop-destroying agricultural pests….has announced the signing of a new multi-year development agreement with a collaborator to develop a self-limiting soybean looper (Chrysodeixis includens) to suppress this damaging agricultural pest that is found throughout the Americas.

Soybean looper threatens a variety of crops, primarily soybeans as well as cotton, sweet potatoes, peanuts, lettuce, herbs, tomato, tobacco, and others. It has been historically difficult to control due to growing insecticide resistance. Additionally, individual adult females can lay up to 700 eggs each in their lifetime, allowing a small number of insects to exponentially grow in a very short time span.

Oxitec’s self-limiting approach utilizes proprietary and precision genetics to embed self-limiting properties in agricultural pests, mosquitoes and other insects, providing farmers with safe and effective tools for combating crop-destroying and disease-carrying insects.

Related article:  GMO mosquitoes produced hybrid offspring in the wild? New study says yes—but under fire from critics

“Soybean looper threatens crops in the Americas, especially in Brazil and the US, where current control tools are under pressure. It is necessary to rapidly deploy new, safe and targeted technologies,” said Grey Frandsen, Chief Executive Officer at Oxitec. “Our targeted biologically-based approach offers the opportunity to suppress this major agricultural pest, prevent widespread crop losses and, perhaps most importantly, complement the newest generations of other valuable pest control methods.”

Read full, original article: Oxitec Signs New Multi-year Development Agreement to Apply 2nd Generation Technology to Control Soybean Looper

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