Beat the blight

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

GENETICS could come to the rescue of cotton farmers in Australia. A genetically engineered pesticide will be introduced in the country to battle the pests which have devastated cotton crops. The enemy is the long-standing predator of cotton crops, the boll caterpillar, which has developed such a powerful resistance to chemicals that it threatens to undo all control measures. The proposed weapon is Ingard cotton, an insecticide which is produced within the plant itself. in this case, genetic engineering will be introduced for the first time in agriculture in Australia. So far it has been primarily confined to corn and cotton crops in the US. Genetically engineered pest control is easy from the farmers' point of view. They can purchase special seeds carrying the anti-boll caterpillar gene from local seed suppliers to grow plants and collect their seeds. Ingard cotton would eliminate about 60 per cent of the need for chemicals.

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