The insect our main rival?
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CTA. 2003. The insect ? our main rival?. Spore 103. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Though tiny creatures, insects are human beings chief rival for the available food supply of the world. They come in infinite varieties and have always adapted to consume any kind of organic material in the world plant or animal, living or...
Though tiny creatures, insects are human beings chief rival for the available food supply of the world. They come in infinite varieties and have always adapted to consume any kind of organic material in the world plant or animal, living or dead, raw or manufactured. In Kenya, as in many other ACP countries, a wide range of methods has been tried out to control the devastating effects of stemborers, such as the spotted stemborer (Chillo partellus), the maize stalkborer (Busseola fusca) and the pink stemborer (Sesamia calamistis). The methods, including good habitat management, cultural practices such as burning affected areas, biological control and the use of conventional insecticides, have proved inadequate. The development of resistant plant varieties has long been researched. Now a solution to the stemborer problem seems to be in the offing. Since 2000, scientists of the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project in Kenya have been working to develop genetically modified varieties of maize Bt maize for use as an alternative or addition to other stemborer control systems. The name Bt is taken from Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium found worldwide. It produces crystal-like proteins which become toxic when they get inside the stomachs of specific insects. Bt maize produces its own Bt protein which kills any insect feeding on the maize plant. The technology is not new. Nearly 40% of maize grown in the US and Canada carries the Bt gene. What is new is finding Bt maize varieties that are effective against each of the stemborer species and thrive in Kenyan conditions. Despite the controversies surrounding genetic modification, the varieties are being developed in Kenya and then distributed to other countries. The Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) is familiarising the country s extension workers with Bt maize. S Mugo, IRMA PO Box 25171, Nairobi, Kenya Fax: + 254 2 522 879 Email: email@example.com
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