GM bollworms on the anvil?

Insects have been modified to destroy own species

Published: Wednesday 31 July 2002

Genetically modified pink bollworms (Pectinophora gossypiella) have been released recently for the first time in a secret location in the cotton fields of Arizona. The bollworms have been modified by US scientists to be sterile so that they can mate with natural bollworms, which will not produce any offspring. Although the experimental batch of bollworms have been released under netting, many dread that the experiment will go awry and the modified insects will wreak havoc in the wild.

The recent move, if successful, spells trouble for US multinational giant Monsanto as they sell genetically modified bollworm-resistant cotton at prices farmers say are exorbitant. So instead of GM cotton, farmers are likely to back the modified version of the bollworm, which, if successful would enable them to plant regular cotton and save money on chemical pesticides. When contacted, officials at Monsanto's India office declined to comment on the issue.

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