New pesticides will modify insect genes: what could go wrong?
Published: April 8, 2021
If the Environmental Protection Agency approves commercialization of a new GM pesticide, the result will be an open-air genetic experiment—that could “silence” essential survival genes for insects on contact or through ingesting sprayed crops. In addition, risks to farmworkers and rural communities would be triggered.
“Once gene-silencing agents are released into the environment, there’s no cleanup process when things go awry. Evidence shows that RNAi-related genetic modifications could be passed on for up to 80 generations in some cases,” wrote Kendra Klein in Food Tank.
It’s up to the Biden administration to demand the safety studies required to avert significant damage; already, 40% of species face extinction in the coming decades. Risk assessments might include genome analyses of beneficial organisms, hereditary impacts across generations, pesticide duration, and toxicity analysis. Despite chemical producers’ insistence that the pesticides will only target “bad” insects, research indicates that thousands of insect species have similar enough genetic sequences to be subject to unintentional modification. Synthetic RNAi could impact gene expression in unknown ways; and pests do develop resistance to these pesticides.
Rachel Carson warned in the 1960s that our “relentless war” on insects is futile because nature “fights back.” Decades of data back the perils of pesticide-intensive agriculture: 540 insect species and 360 weeds have evolved resistance to commercial pesticides. Alarmingly, manufacturers are filing patents to acquire property rights to organisms.
Regenerative farming has pesticide management solutions: cover cropping, crop rotation and composting, and healthy soil buildup.
Source: Food Tank
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights April 2021