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Plan to release genetically modified moths in U.K.

The premise is based on a study that shows releasing moths which only produce male offspring, causes population crashes. The report has come from a company called Oxitec, which is a spin-off from Oxford University.

The reasoning, The Daily Telegraph reports, is based on the outcome of studies conducted in special greenhouses. These trials have shown that releasing genetically modified diamondback or cabbage moths leads to the moth populations to fall rapidly, thus limiting damage from caterpillars. The data suggests levels of moths can been controlled within eight weeks.

Discussing the plan, Neil Morrison, lead Research Scientist at Oxitec, stated: “We all share an interest in safe and environmentally friendly pest control, so this is a very promising tool that could be put to good use by farmers as part of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for healthy and sustainable agriculture.”

Oxitec is not only focusing on the U.K. The Natural Society reported last year that the company put forward proposals to release genetically modified moths in New York. The argument is the same, to prevent damage to broccoli and cauliflower fields.

In related news, plans to produce something similar to fish oil, grown on a farm, is now closer to realization. This is following promising results from a genetically modified crop trial. Here, researchers have created a genetically modified oilseed plant called Camelina sativa or “false flax.” The seeds of the plant contain omega-3 fatty acids of a type normally only found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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