Show Details

Sweetener Pesticide

June 5, 2014

A low-calorie sweetener could double as an insecticide for fruit flies.



Sweet for people; deadly to flies. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

truvia scb

(Susanne Clara Bard)

The popular low calorie sweetener Truvia is safe for people, but according to a study in the journal PLOS One, it’s deadly to fruitflies. Drexel University biologist Daniel Marenda said his son Simon first discovered the phenomenon three years ago, working on a sixth grade science fair experiment into the effects of sugar substitutes on fruitflies.

DANIEL MARENDA (Drexel University):

And after about five or six days he came back and said “Dad, all of the flies in the Truvia vial are dead.” And I thought, that’s kind of interesting, right? So I thought, we should repeat this experiment.


Marenda and his colleagues at Drexel confirmed the finding. Now they’d like to figure out how the compound kills the flies and how it affects other insects. The goal is a product that’s completely safe for people and pets, yet irresistible and deadly to pests. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.