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Cornell researchers test self-destructing moth pest in cabbage patch

Cropped Photo: sach1tb / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 2.0

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) -- Researchers in a New York cabbage patch are planning the first release on American soil of insects genetically engineered to die before they can reproduce.

The work at Cornell University's test farm is a pesticide-free attempt to control invasive diamondback moths.

The insect's larval caterpillars devour crops in the crucifer family, including cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and they're notoriously resistant to chemical controls.

Cornell researcher Anthony Shelton is conducting tests of moths genetically engineered by biotech firm Oxitec. They reduce the wild population by producing female offspring that die before maturing.

Shelton is awaiting a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for field tests.

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