Living With GMO Insect Control

Living With Insects Blog

Genetically modified crops to control insect pests have both advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly deployed insect control genes express proteins from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. The proteins specifically target insects and have little effect on humans or mammals. The proteins work by interacting with receptors present in the digestive system of insects but are absent in humans and mammals. The proteins are so specific that some will target caterpillars, but not flies or beetles. Others target some beetles, but not all beetles or other groups of insects. In humans and non-susceptible animals, most BT proteins are either metabolized to release amino acids or pass through the digestive system. For non-susceptible animals, the BT proteins are one more protein in the complex mix of proteins present in any food. The largest impact on human health and safety is due to GMO crops replacing more harmful insecticides, especially the cholinesterase…

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