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Plants vs. Insects Roundup

April 23, 2010

A protein in coffee beans is an effective pesticide.


A coffee bean pesticide. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Plants are constantly being eaten alive by insects, so it’s not surprising that they’ve developed some extremely potent insecticides. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Brazilian scientists report that a protein found in unroasted coffee beans is a powerful pesticide—even in tiny quantities. It seems to have no effect in people, but will have to undergo more testing before it’s approved for insect control in crops.

In the journal Environmental Science and Technology, British researchers report that carnivorous plants maybe getting sick from eating polluted insects. The insects pick up toxic metals like cadmium, which are then ingested by the plants. Carnivorous plants are disappearing from the wild, and this could be one factor. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.