Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fight Between Genetically Modified Organisms And The Bugs They Repel May Not Be Over

Date:
September 3, 2001
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
For all the promise of crops genetically modified to resist pests, the miracles of the laboratory are only good until the bugs outsmart them. Mark Whalon, a Michigan State University entomology professor, says that farmers and those marketing genetically modified seeds shouldn’t become complacent because so far there has been no documented evidence that insects have developed resistance to crops engineered to repel them.

For all the promise of crops genetically modified to resist pests, the miracles of the laboratory are only good until the bugs outsmart them.

Mark Whalon, a Michigan State University entomology professor, says that farmers and those marketing genetically modified seeds shouldn’t become complacent because so far there has been no documented evidence that insects have developed resistance to crops engineered to repel them.

Instead, in a presentation at the 222nd National Conference of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Wednesday, Aug. 29, he said precautions should be taken to explore ways to combat resistance to genetically modified organism (GMO) crops before the bugs develop it.

“We’d like to think that science could manage resistance, but in truth, historically we’ve been pretty ineffective,” Whalon said. “I think what’s going on in the big GMO crops – corn and cotton – is that growers haven’t yet gotten a high enough percentage of GMO plants in the field such that sufficient selection pressure has been mounted against the pests for resistance to develop.”

Whalon’s ACS presentation – “Insect resistance to GMOs: What have we learned?” – explores speculation on whether pests will evolve to defend themselves from crops that produce defenses against them. Insects and mites already have proven deft at developing resistance to applied insecticides, with 540 arthropods resistant to more than 310 insecticides and miticides.

These speculations and deductive arguments have resulted in the first-ever requirement by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for resistance management plans as a part of the GMO registration process

Whalon is a proponent of working now to head off resistance in the field by learning to live with some of the insects. He argues that a certain number of crop-eating pests need to be treasured – protected for the susceptibility genes they pass on to the next generation.

“It has never been good just to kill everything you can,” Whalon said. “We should be trying to preserve a sufficient number of insects that are susceptible to the GMO crops. These bugs that normally would be killed need to be allowed to survive so they can provide susceptible genes to the population pool. Otherwise, we will select a strain of resistant bugs to destroy or mitigate the value of a promising new technology.”

The process of letting a few otherwise doomed bugs survive and pass their vulnerability or “susceptibility” on to future generations is called the “refugia strategy” – the practice of providing a GMO-free refuge for the bugs to happily grow, develop and breed. Give the more fragile, yet genetically valuable pests a place to call their own – even if they munch away at the crops in a minor way – and they will pay farmers and society back for many, many years to come.

The practice of refugia is still experimental – and can be a tough sell to farmers skeptical of showing mercy to any crop-eating pests.

“Susceptibility is a natural resource,” Whalon said. “Just like there’s only so much water and air, there’s only so much susceptibility to be grabbed up and exploited. It’s a natural resource that could be critical to the future of feeding generation of people to come.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Fight Between Genetically Modified Organisms And The Bugs They Repel May Not Be Over." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010903092333.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2001, September 3). Fight Between Genetically Modified Organisms And The Bugs They Repel May Not Be Over. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010903092333.htm
Michigan State University. "Fight Between Genetically Modified Organisms And The Bugs They Repel May Not Be Over." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010903092333.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins