An Interview with Fred Gould and Aaron Gassmann on the NAS Report on Genetically Engineered Crops

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The National Academies of Sciences recently released a study on the safety of genetically engineered crops on human and livestock health and the environment. While many folks wanted the study to take a firm stance on GE crops (e.g., “GE crops are bad,” or “GE crops are good”), the findings were much more nuanced than […]

Can Genetically Modified Trees Save American Forests?

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By Richard Levine Yesterday I attended the sixth North American Forest Insect Work Conference, a meeting that has been held every five years since 1991. This one is taking place in Washington, DC and ends on Friday, June 3, 2016. The meeting brings together regional forestry groups, including many from the USDA Forest Service, whom […]

Ongoing NAS Study Examines Current Understanding of GE Crops

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By Fred Gould Genetically engineered crops and their use in food are hot-button issues. People around the world have a wide range of questions and opinions about the agronomic, environmental, health, and socioeconomic, impacts of these crops. We entomologists have our own questions. How do genetically engineered crops fit into the spectrum of pest management […]

Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Reduce Dengue Transmitters by 95 Percent

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Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame

This 2006 image depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito as she was obtaining a blood-meal from a human host through her fascicle, which had penetrated the host skin, was reddening in color, reflecting the blood’s coloration through this tubular structure. In this case, what would normally be an unsuspecting host was actually the CDC’s biomedical photographer’s own hand, which he’d offered to the hungry mosquito so that she’d alight, and be photographed while feeding. As it filled with blood, the abdomen became distended, stretched the exterior exoskeletal surface, causing it to become transparent, and allowed the collecting blood to become visible as an enlarging intra-abdominal red mass.

Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by urban Aedes mosquitos, principally A. aegypti, a species found living in close association with humans in most tropical urban areas. Mosquito biting activity is greatest in the morning for several hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon for several hours before dark. It may feed all day indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast. This mosquito breeds in artificial water containers, such as discarded tires, cans, barrels, buckets, 55 gallon drums, flower vases, and cisterns, all frequently found in the domestic environment. Since 1980, the incidence of dengue has increased dramatically in tropical countries worldwide, with endemic and/or epidemic virus transmission documented in most countries of the Caribbean Basin, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, Asia, and Africa; many countries have had multiple outbreaks. Epidemics are frequently not reported because of inadequate disease surveillance.

The results of a trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes intended to reduce their ability to transmit dengue fever have been published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The mosquitoes, commonly known as “Friendly Aedes aegypti” mosqitoes in Brazil where the trial took place, were developed by a company called Oxitec. The results of the […]

Scientists Discover How Bollworm Becomes Resistant to Bt Crops

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Bt crops are plants that have been genetically-engineered to produce proteins that are harmless to humans but are toxic to some devastating insect pests. The proteins are produced by genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that have been inserted into the crops. These same Bt proteins have been used by organic farmers for more […]

Bt-resistant Insects not Likely to Be a Problem for Maize Farmers

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Dominic Reisig, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, received a phone call in 2013 from a farmer who was having trouble with fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda), an insect pest that costs farmers in the southeastern United States tens of millions of dollars each year. This seemed odd because the farmer had planted Bt corn, […]

Genetically-Modified Honey Bees: A Key Technology for Honey Bee Research

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By David O’Brochta A breakthrough in the efforts to genetically modify honey bees was recently reported by Christina Schulte and colleagues from Heinrich Heine University in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Schulte et al. reported the creation of a honey bee containing a “foreign” gene — […]

Mosquitoes Modified to Create Only Male Offspring Could Help Eradicate Malaria

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Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from Imperial College London have tested a new genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, […]

Beneficial Insects and Nematodes are not Harmed by Genetically-modified, Insect-resistant Plants

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A large body of literature has shown that genetically-modified plants that produce proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to protect themselves from insect pests have little to no effect on a wide range of nontarget insects. However, concerns about Bt crops still exist. Now two new studies using more exacting methods show that Bt […]

First African Study on Biodiversity in Genetically Modified Maize Finds Insects Abundant

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Previous studies from China, Spain, and the United States on genetically modified (GM) rice, cotton, and maize have concluded that the biodiversity of insects and related arthropods in GM crop fields was essentially the same as that among conventional crops. Now a new study from South Africa shows similar results. The study is described in […]