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19.4.03

Insects Thrive On GM "Pest-Killing" Crops

Genetically modified crops specially engineered to kill pests in fact nourish them, startling new research has revealed.

The research – which has taken even the most ardent opponents of GM crops by surprise – radically undermines one of the key benefits claimed for them. And it suggests that they may be an even greater threat to organic farming than has been envisaged.


This research is doubtless going to be snapped up by the anti-GM folks (in fact, I heard about it from our local anti-globalization group). Assuming it's true, it's certainly bad news. Bad news for the particular GM crops that are currently popular. The kind of problem this study found is based on a specific application of GM, and can't necessarily be extrapolated to all possible uses of the technology (including the ones I see as more promising, such as drought-resistant and nutritionally enhanced crops. Pest and herbicide resistant crops are largely an easy application that brings in big bucks for further research). I'm inclined to cut GM some slack given that as a technology it's still in its infancy. On the other hand, this story serves as a caution about the big promises made on behalf of current GM applications.

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