17 July 2017

Useful pests will be checked in the case

Field trials of GM moths approved in the USA

Sergey Vasiliev, Naked Science

Mustard, radish and horseradish, cabbage of all kinds – cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, broccoli – the sickle-winged cabbage moth is a pest of all cruciferous cultivated plants. Plutella xylostella is ubiquitous, resistant to common insecticides and causes serious harm to the economy. Today it is an invasive species that has spread from Europe to all continents, even reaching New Zealand.

Drawing from the page of the Diamondback Moth project – VM.

Manufacturers and governments of many countries are concerned about the fight against these insects, and a few years ago Oxford biologists led by Luke Olfi (Luke Alphey) they suggested using GM moles for this. The idea was to introduce artificially obtained males into the natural pest populations, which will be able to compete with "wild" relatives for mating, but are unable to produce full-fledged offspring, leading to a rapid decline in the population. To do this, scientists have described a small insertion into the insect genome, a piece of DNA that is passed from parents to offspring and makes females unviable.

A drawing from an article by the Alphey Engineered Female-Specific Lethality group
for Control of Pest Lepidoptera
(Synthetic Biology, 2013) – VM.

Such GM moths, and the approach itself, were thoroughly tested at Cornell University by Tony Shelton's team. Now, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) under the US Department of Agriculture has officially announced the start of limited field trials of GM insects under controlled conditions. For this purpose, a 10-acre site of an Agricultural experimental station in New York State will be used. Scientists are allowed to release up to 10 thousand moths at a time, but no more than 30 thousand per week.

It is worth saying that GM insects were obtained by the well-known startup Oxitec, the same one that has been fighting for several years to use a similar approach to combat clouds of mosquitoes, carriers of malaria, yellow fever and many other tropical diseases. This idea is opposed by a number of environmental activists and even scientists, and so far in the United States it has not come to mosquitoes, although in some other countries careful tests of the technology have already passed, and in Brazil GM mosquitoes are being tried in practice. Therefore, the permit issued for testing GM moths can be considered as a small step by Oxitec towards the full triumph of its technology - a genetic weapon for pest control.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  17.07.2017

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