Precision Agricultural Pest Suppression
Our self-limiting technology provides an environmentally-responsible and targeted method of controlling insect pests that damage crops.
Insect pests cause a huge amount of damage to crops around the world, having a significant economic impact on food supply and security. Unfortunately, current control methods do not always work.
Insecticides are a key part of a grower’s toolbox, but many insects are becoming resistant to these chemicals. There are also growing health concerns about certain pesticides. As a result, growers are increasingly looking for more effective and environmentally-responsible tools to deal with this problem.
An alternative has been to use the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), in which insects are sterilized with radiation and released among wild populations of insects of the same species. But this method also faces challenges as irradiation can weaken the released males and make them less successful at mating.
Due to these limitations, many growers are adopting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to producing food that uses a range of biological, physical and chemical tools to manage pests in an economical and environmentally-sustainable way.
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Oxitec’s Self-limiting Insects for Crop Protection
While Oxitec is known best for its Friendly™ Mosquitoes, we have also used our technology to develop safe, self-limiting insects to combat agricultural pests that cause billions of dollars of crop damage globally. The same simple approach is used when we develop crop protection solutions – we have genetically engineered our insects to carry a self-limiting gene.
This single self-limiting gene is designed to prevent the female offspring from surviving, as it is the females that are responsible for producing the offspring that feed on crops. Because these female offspring never mature to reproduce, the pest population is reduced. Recent studies also show that sustained releases of these self-limiting males can reduce resistance to other approaches, including pesticides and biotech crops, which means that Oxitec’s technology has the unique potential of unlocking additional value in other methods of pest control.
Our self-limiting insects also contain a fluorescent marker gene, which allows us to monitor the offspring in the environment. We can use this information to adjust the location and rate of releases to achieve the best possible level of suppression.
Read more about the technology here.
Benefits of Our Solution
Oxitec’s self-limiting technology introduces a new level of pest suppression that is safe, environmentally-friendly and self-limiting. It overcomes many of the problems encountered with deployment of conventional tools alone, and it provides farmers with the ability to combat damaging insect pests without impacting crops or the surrounding environment.
The species-specificity and low environmental impact make self-limiting insects a promising tool for controlling several of the world’s most damaging crop pests and ideal for use as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy (IPM). Our technology is friendly to the environment, targeting only one insect pest and allowing other insects, like bees and butterflies, to thrive.
IPM programs that utilize methods like ours will also help to minimize pesticide residues on foods and help to reduce or reverse insecticide resistance.