Oxitec’s Innovative Solution to Tackle Growing Diamondback Moth Pest Issue Begins Field Trials
Eco-Friendly GE Solution Overcomes Increasing Insecticide Resistance in DBM Helping Farmers to Control Damaging Pest and Increase Food Production
OXFORD, UK, September, 5, 2017 –Oxitec Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation(NYSE: XON), today announced that field trials of its genetically engineered diamondback moth have commenced following the Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) recently issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Farmers globally are struggling to control the diamondback moth (DBM), a non-native species in the United States and the world’s most damaging agricultural pest of brassica crops including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other vegetables. This highly invasive pest costs farmers over $4 billion yearly in crop losses and control management.
DBM has a diverse set of mechanisms for insecticide resistance and is considered one of the most difficult pests to control. Since its reported resistance to DDT in 1953, DBM has developed resistance to dozens of widely-used insecticides including spinsosad, indoxacarb, chlorinated hydrocarbons, carbamates, organophosphates and pyrethroids, among others. DBM is also one of the first agricultural pests to have evolved resistance in the field to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins.
“Following the USDA’s extensive review, we are pleased to be advancing a novel breakthrough technology that will provide a powerful and sustainable solution to control the increasingly insecticide resistant diamondback moth and the damage it causes to a variety of important crops,” said Sekhar Boddupalli, Senior Vice President and Head of Intrexon’s Food sector.
Tony Shelton, Ph.D., Professor of Entomology at Cornell University and a world-renowned expert on sustainable agriculture and DBM, will lead the USDA-approved field evaluation. The field trial will be conducted at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
Dr. Shelton noted, “Innovation in crop protection is necessary for more sustainable pest control methods and to reduce potential risks to human health and the environment. Self-limiting diamondback moths offer a new mode of action in the fight against this economically damaging pest. Importantly, this technology only targets this damaging pest species, and does not affect beneficial insects such as pollinators and biological control agents. Our previous greenhouse and field cage studies of this technology worked extremely well, and the USDA-approved evaluation will help us determine how well it works in the field.”
As highlighted in a BioMed Central Biology publication, Oxitec’s platform has been successful in rapidly suppressing and eliminating the diamondback moth population and holds substantial promise as an effective, versatile control option against this agricultural pest. The engineered moth (OX4319L) represents one of several self-limiting insect technologies that is being developed by Oxitec and Intrexon Crop Protection to manage hard-to-control or resistant crop pests.
“The purpose of the Oxitec diamondback moth is to provide farmers with an environmentally friendly tool in the fight against this invasive pest, especially in light of a significant decline in performance of alternative methods. Moving to field trials is a critical step to get innovative solutions that are safe and effective to farmers in need,” stated Neil Morrison, Ph.D., Oxitec senior scientist and project lead.
Oxitec is a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops, and was founded in 2002 as a spinout from Oxford University (UK). Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
About Intrexon Corporation
Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) is Powering the Bioindustrial Revolution with Better DNA™ to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet. The Company’s integrated technology suite provides its partners across diverse markets with industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems delivering unprecedented control, quality, function, and performance of living cells. We call our synthetic biology approach Better DNA®, and we invite you to discover more at www.dna.com or follow us on Twitter at @Intrexon, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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