TRADITIONAL crop enemies should make
themselves scarce. Out to get them are
genetically engineered bugs from the
laboratory of Marjorie A Hoy, a
University of Florida entomologist. Hoy
recently became the first scientist to ask
the us department of agriculture for
permission to release the genetically
altered mite into a test plot to feed on
their spider mite cousins, known for their unwholesome effects on crops.
Hoy's mite is an eight-legged, wingless
creature and is the size of the period at
the end of this sentence.
There are more engineered bugs to come, including cotton-munching moths with 'suicide genes' and mosquitoes with genes that will prevent the spread of human diseases. Genetically engineered arthropods are the current rage among the scientists to battle the many ills facing humankind. A note of caution, however, comes from various eco-groups who believe that the bugs should be studied thoroughly before being released, as it could have ecological ramifications of an unknown nature. Says Jeremy Rifkin, president, Foundation on Economic Trends, Washington, of the mites, "These are alive and can reproduce and can mutate from generation to generation very quickly. They can proliferate over large territories, and they cannot be recalled after they are released".
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.