Living With GMO Insect Control

argylesock says… Here’s a good summary of how Bt crops work, some of their pros and cons, how they affect global trade. Bt crops are genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) crops which produce an insecticide called Bt toxin. This article’s focus is on Bt maize (corn, Zea mays). It tells us that some Bt crops select particular kinds of insects to kill. Also that there’s a Bt maize called MIR 162 which was developed by Syngenta. MIR 162 is grown in the United States but not yet in China. Here’s the response to MIR 162 from the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA).

Living With Insects Blog

Genetically modified crops to control insect pests have both advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly deployed insect control genes express proteins from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. The proteins specifically target insects and have little effect on humans or mammals. The proteins work by interacting with receptors present in the digestive system of insects but are absent in humans and mammals. The proteins are so specific that some will target caterpillars, but not flies or beetles. Others target some beetles, but not all beetles or other groups of insects. In humans and non-susceptible animals, most BT proteins are either metabolized to release amino acids or pass through the digestive system. For non-susceptible animals, the BT proteins are one more protein in the complex mix of proteins present in any food. The largest impact on human health and safety is due to GMO crops replacing more harmful insecticides, especially the cholinesterase…

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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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