Neonicotinoids, A Brief History IV: Systemic Issues

Living With Insects Blog

The management of insect pests of agricultural crops through the use of pesticides has undergone a transformation. Many agricultural crops have been genetically engineered to deter, kill or otherwise tolerate the most damaging insect pests. Insect control is built on the use of bacterial genes (BT) that are engineered into the plants. These genes cause the plant to produce proteins that are highly specific in their effects on a limited number of insect species, with little to no effect on other animals. The engineered seeds are more expensive than non-engineered seeds, but there is substantial energy savings compared to spraying pesticide on crops during the growing season. Pest control with BT is typically specific, for example, the BT crop may only prevent damage from a major pest but still be susceptible to minor pests. The seed themselves may be vulnerable to attack by soil pests. Thus, seed treatments (coating the…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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