Transgenic cotton enhances ecosystem in farms: Chinese study

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-6-14 13:22:12

Transgenic cotton can boost population of beneficial pest-controlling insects in its own farm as well as nearby farms, according to a Chinese research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

The transgenic cotton belongs to a group of transgenic crops called "Bt crops", which are genetically modified to produce a protein that is a natural insecticide. They have been widely planted in more than 20 countries all over the world.

"Many concerns over transgenic crops are about their long-term effects, and our research is just to answer that question," said Wu Kongming at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who told Xinhua that this research is the first of its kind in the world.

Wu and his colleagues investigated data from 1990 to 2010 at 36 sites in six provinces of northern China, where the Bt cotton were planted on a large scale. They found that the protein produced by Bt cotton could help control bollworm which is a major pest in cotton farms.

Furthermore, the decreased use of chemical insecticides means some beneficial insects were no longer suffering collateral damage from chemical insecticides and their numbers increased.

Three major beneficial insects whose population was boosted are ladybirds, lacewings and spiders, according to the research.

Regarding the disputes about transgenic crops, Wu said: "Genetic technology is just a neutral tool that should not be feared, and we should focus on the pros and cons of the final transgenic product in a scientific way."

"In this case, it is proved that the transgenic Bt cotton could enhance the ecosystem in farms in a long term."

Posted in: Biology

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