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Biotech and Traditional Farming are Compatible Approaches to Sustainable Agri, Study
Thursday, 2015/01/08 | 10:30:48

A new international study led by Chinese scientists and Bruce Tabashnik at the University of Arizona suggests that biotech crops and traditional farming practices can be compatible approaches to sustainable agriculture.


The team discovered that the diverse patchwork of crops in northern China slowed adaptation to genetically engineered cotton by the cotton pest bollworm. Tabashnik used computer model simulations to project the consequences of different assumptions about the use of refuges in northern China, where such refuges have not been required. The Chinese believe that refuges of non-Bt cotton are not needed because the cotton bollworm feeds on many crops other than cotton. The results of the new study provide the first evidence that these "natural refuges" of non-Bt crops delay the evolution of pest resistance to Bt cotton.


Tabashnik said, "Natural refuges help but are not a permanent solution. The paper indicates that if the current trajectory continues, more than half of the cotton bollworm population in northern China will be resistant to Bt cotton in a few years." The team recommends switching to cotton that produces two or more Bt toxins and integrating Bt cotton with other control tactics, such as biological control by predators and parasites.


Tabashnik adds, "The most important lesson is that we don't need to choose between biotechnology and traditional agriculture. Instead, we can use the best practices from both approaches to maximize agricultural productivity and sustainability."


For more, read the news release at http://uanews.org/story/ancient-wisdom-boosts-sustainability-of-biotech-cotton.

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