Remember the GM mosquitos developed to defeat the Zika virus? Now, UK company Oxitece takes on its next challenge: genetically engineered moths that die before being able to destroy crops.

Designed with the so called "self-limiting gene" the diamondback male moth, an invasive species known to destroy cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, passes on its gene to its offspring by mating with a female insect. Through this design, newborn female moths will die before reaching adulthood, so they can’t reproduce. Since caterpillars, the young moths, are the ones causing crop damage, these engineered insects could be a pesticide-free tool. The engineered moths also have a fluorescent protein marker used to track and monitor them.

From GM vegetables to insects. Even if this experiment creates a new standard in gene modification, at this stage it is considered safe for the environment and human health.

Source: MIT Technology Review. Image: LA Times

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