Pest control

Published: Monday 15 May 2000

Over the years, the use of bio-technology ( bt ) has emerged as a useful means to control crop pests. Because bt produced toxins against the insects, it represents a potential transgenic solution for pest control. The Chinese have put in a lot of effort to develop a virus-resistant variety of rice and, it is expected, that pest-resistant maize, wheat and rice will be available to farmers soon. However, success of transgenic plants in the fields may pose the two potential problems of biosafety and destabilisation of natural ecosystems. Today, the pest control market is dominated by bt toxin. bt is considered to be environmentally benign, though, some insects, like the cotton bollworm, are becoming resistant to it. The use of biopesticides has its advantages: the time required from identification to marketing of a pesticide can be less than five years and the registration cost is very nominal unlike other pesticides which can cost more than US$20 million.

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