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Biobased Pest Management

Controlling Worm Pests of Cabbage

Cabbage and other vegetable crops are plagued by yield and cosmetic damage caused by diamond back moth and other pests, which is mitigated only by intensive use of pesticides. With Hatch funds from NIFA, Elizabeth Earle and colleagues at Cornell University are investigating the potential of collard plants genetically modified with the toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to function as a trap crop for attracting and killing worm pests of cabbage.

Using this transgenic collard crop will eliminate the need to use pesticides for these worms and should allow for biological control to take place for other pests of cabbage. The goal is to test the concept that there is no inherent conflict between genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biological control—that is, that transgenic plants can be part of an effective management system.

The potential impact is that pesticide use may be reduced as well as helping groups currently against GMO strategies to re-evaluate their positions on the basis of a more environmentally sound use of GMO technology. If test results are positive, these researchers will work with cabbage growers in New York to set up field trials to implement the research.


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