Precision insect pest suppression.

CROP PROTECTION

Our self-limiting technology provides an environmentally-responsible method of controlling insect pests that damage crops.

THE PROBLEM

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.

NEWS & VIEWS

THE SOLUTION

Self-limiting crop pests

We have genetically engineered our insects to carry a self-limiting gene. We release male insects to mate with wild females, passing on the self-limiting gene to their offspring. This gene prevents the female offspring from surviving, as it is the females that are responsible for producing larvae that damage crops. Because these female offspring never mature to reproduce, when we repeatedly release our insects into the wild, the pest population is reduced.

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

Our self-limiting technology overcomes many of the problems with conventional tools alone. The species-specificity and low environmental impact make self-limiting insects a promising tool for controlling several of the most damaging crop pests and ideal for use as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy (IPM).

IPM programs that utilize methods like ours will also help to minimize pesticide residues on foods and help reduce or reverse insecticide resistance.

Our technology is friendly to the environment: targeting only one insect pest and allowing other insects, like bees and butterflies, to thrive.

  

The agricultural application.

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