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UA Researcher Battles Bugs Resistant To GMOs, Natural Toxins

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 6:15pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 7:27pm

A new study co-authored by a University of Arizona professor shows how the bugs have become resistant to genetically modified cotton.

Crops have long been genetically modified to produce natural pesticides. But cotton plants in China, South America and Latin America are now succumbing to caterpillars that have evolved a resistance to the toxin.

Enter UA Entomologist Bruce Tabashnik, co-author of the genetic study that discovered the problem.

“In this particular case, inheritance of the resistance is unusual,” he said. “It’s dominant, which means that if a caterpillar gets one copy of the resistance gene from one of its parents, it’s resistant, even if the other parent doesn’t give it a resistance gene.”

Tabashnik added that furthering the fight against the bugs involves creating crops which produce more than a single natural toxin.

The study will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).