Much Ado Over Lethal Genes

Publication: BusinessWeek

Author: Arlene Weintraub


01/16/2006 - The pink bollworm is only a half-inch long, but ever since it started wriggling its way through cotton fields in 1917, it has grown into one of agriculture's most detested pests. The slimy, pink-striped blob causes more than $32 million in losses every year. So far nothing has been able to eradicate it — not insecticides, not sterilization techniques, not even biotech-enhanced cotton engineered to resist it.

The lowly fruit fly may provide a magic bullet. Scientists at the University of California in Riverside and the U.S. Agriculture Dept. have figured out how to breed bollworms that can't procreate. They do it by inserting into the pests a single piece of the fly's DNA — known as a "lethal gene" — that can be programmed to interfere with the development of the larvae, killing the next generation.

Read the rest of the article on the BusinessWeek site--Much Ado Over "Lethal Genes." 

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