After Much Research, Mutant Moths Are Released In New York State
The idea of releasing genetically modified insects into the wild is met with some controversy. Despite this, one group of researchers feel perfectly comfortable about releasing genetically altered moths into the state of New York’s environment. The researchers are hoping that the mutant moths will eventually breed a well known moth-pest out of existence. This is the first time in history that researchers have released mutant moths with the hopes that an entire species will die-out.
The research began earlier this spring when the lead researcher, Anthony Shelton, started planting cabbages in his laboratory. Shelton is an entomologist from Cornell University, and he is hoping to create a new type of pest-control method with his mutant moths. The troublesome insect-pests that Shelton and his team are hoping to destroy forever are known as diamond-back moths. These moths do not seem to have any positive effect on the environment; instead these moths are one of the most devastating and hated of all insect pests. These moths cause a staggering four to five billion dollars of damage every year to a group of plants referred to as Brassica plants. Brassica plants include cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Unfortunately, these tough moth-pests have evolved to become more resistant to traditional insecticides.
Shelton’s large cabbage patch located in Geneva New York is the testing ground for his particular pest-control method. The tests began last month when the mutant moths were released into the environment, and the testing will end once the first frost hits this fall. As you can guess, many nearby farmers feel uneasy about having a hoard of moth-pests released into the environment. However, Shelton insists that these moths cannot do any harm. The moths are engineered to carry a deadly gene that they will pass to their offspring after mating. Many farmers in New York state are hoping for this experiment’s success.
Do you think that this experiment could backfire for Shelton? If yes, what could go wrong?