Source: Daily Mail
Genetically modified insects designed to destroy food crop pests could be released into the countryside, Daily Mail reports. The British Government is considering plans by the British company Oxitec for the ‘open release’ of a GM strain of the diamondback moth, which it has developed. With the GM strain a lethal gene is inserted into the male of the species. When mating, their offspring die almost immediately. This could lead to increasing crop yields and profits for farmers. Oxitec is keen to begin trials next year. There is a number of scenarios for the release, ranging from open release into fields to a more controlled experiment using polytunnels with insect proof screens at each end.
Dr Helen Wallace, the director of GeneWatch UK, said the release of GM ‘Frankenmoths’ is potentially disastrous. Mass releases of GM insects into the British countryside would be impossible to recall. Changing one part of an ecosystem can have knock-on effects on others in ways that are poorly understood. The release could include an increase in different types of pest. Wildlife that feeds on insects could be harmed if there were changes to their food supply.