How Biotech and Gene Modification is good for the environment
This is a little old now, but clearly demonstrates that genetic engineering is good for the environment. It's now just used in plants, but on them as well. Biotechnology = less chemicals
Australia is leading the world in the move away from conventional chemical insecticides to using "soft options" as an effective management of many insect pests in broadacre crops.
Dr Carrie Hauxwell, of the Department of Primary Industries said the success of the viral biopesticide "Gemstar" has led to increased interest in a new generation of biopesticides to add to the range of options available to producers help manage insect pests.
One of these are fungi-based insecticides.
"Fungi are now emerging as a potential addition to the successful "soft" control methods currently based on viruses and bacteria," Dr Hauxwell said.
"These insect pathogens, while devastating to the target insect populations, have little if any effect on other organisms, including insect predators and parasites that can naturally keep insect pests under control.
"These new biopesticides are sourced from fungi that naturally occur in the target insects, but often only reach significant levels late in the season – too late to prevent pest damage."
Using spray-based applications, Dr Hauxwell said they could kill significant numbers of insect pests over several days and spread from the dead insects to live ones, further increasing their effectiveness.
"A significant advantage is that the fungal biopesticides can be produced through a fermentation process that should keep costs down and improve supply. "
Dr Hauxwell said that unlike viral pesticides, which must be eaten, those based on fungi have the advantage of infecting the target insect when it touched treated leaves.
"The development of fungi-based biopesticides is challenging, and product quality and performance are critical," she said.
"With the support of GRDC, the Agency's Biopesticides Unit has been identifying and testing different fungi for use against Heliothis in glasshouse trials, and in establishing a production process and a stable formulation.
"This season we have field-tested the most promising fungus, which is specific to heliothis, loopers and armyworms.
"It is still early in development, but these initial field results look promising and suggest that the fungal biopesticide can perform well in the paddock."