Source: Cornell Alliance for Science – 02 February 2022

Genetically modified insects offer a sustainable solution for controlling fall armyworm, a devastating agricultural pest that has already developed resistance to both insecticides and Bt crops, a new study finds.

The peer-reviewed research, published in BMC Biotechnology Journal, found that Oxitec Ltd.’s Friendly technology can effectively reduce populations of fall armyworm, offering hope for long-term protection against the pest.

“Our results provide promise for a new and valuable addition to future integrated pest management programs for fall armyworm, and for other pests in which insecticide resistance has become a significant challenge for farmers,” the authors wrote. “Preservation of, and reducing over-reliance on, existing tools whilst minimizing their ecological impact will improve food security, farmers’ livelihoods, and environmental sustainability.”

The proprietary Friendly technology works by genetically modifying (GM) insects to introduce a gene that prevents offspring of the pests from surviving into adulthood. The modified male fall armyworms are released into areas of infestation where they mate with wild females, reducing the number of female offspring in the next generation and thereby dramatically reducing the population. The introduced gene is self-limiting…