The incompetence of biotech is reaching new heights as their genetically modified universe is crumbles faster than companies can come up with another freakish altered food or insect. Now, after spending millions, they are finding that a type of GM wheat developed in the UK to produce an odor that repels aphids is failing. This time, the results are creating quite a stink.
The GM wheat trial held by Rothamsted Research in 2012-2013 was published this week in the journal, Scientific Reports. Scientists aren’t sure why the GM wheat didn’t work, but one theory is that aphids simply became used to the chemical deterrent – kind of like regular bugs becoming resistant super bugs, thanks to Monsanto’s glyphosate.
The GM wheat was created by introducing plants with specific genes that produce anti-insect pheromone (E)-beta-farnesene. The development was on the premise that this could reduce the amount of pesticide that farmers currently have to use to grow the crop. The smell is found naturally in plants like peppermint, which naturally repels aphids.
While developing aphid-resilient crops is a great idea, there are other ways to deter unfriendly bugs that don’t require genetic alteration OR pesticides and herbicides. Aphids like greenfly and blackfly suck plants’ sap and introduce them to viruses by making them more vulnerable, but that’s only in plants grown in poor soil.
Healthy soil routinely grows strong and healthy plants that are better able to ward off diseases, pathogens, and insect pests – they simply find strong plants less desirable. Having plants that are constantly diseased or under attack by insects is not normal, although many people that are ‘conventional’ gardeners will tell you that.
Dr. Toby Bruce, first author of the study and senior chemical ecologist at Rothamsted Research, told the BBC:
“In science we never expect to get confirmation of every hypothesis. Often it is the negative results and unexpected surprises that end up making big advances – penicillin was discovered by accident, for example.”
Anti-GM campaigners tried to stop the GM wheat trial several years ago. They were quick to note the outcome was further evidence of the waste of investing in GM crops instead of teaching people how to grow sustainably.
The project cost £732,000 ($1.1m) with an additional £444,000 spent on fencing to protect the trial site.
Liz O’Neill, director of GM Freeze, said:
“The waste of over £1m of public funding on a trial confirms the simple fact that when GM tries to outwit nature, nature adapts in response.”