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Pest-Resistant Crops

March 5, 2015

A new advance in modifying plants to kill specific insect pests.



A new approach to protecting crops. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The Colorado potato beetle is what’s known as a “super pest.” It can strip a field clear of potato or tomato plants and is resistant to most pesticides. In the journal Science, Ralph Bock and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany describe a new way to stop the insect by engineering plants that produce genetic material called double strand RNA in their chloroplasts. It can be fine-tuned to disrupt a single vital gene in one species of insect, killing it.

RALPH BOCK (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology):

Any essential gene in the insect could be targeted, so this should prevent the development of resistances in the insect against the technology.


He says the same technique could be used on other varieties of insect, potentially eliminating the need for pesticides. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.