Researchers in England have initiated field trials to test a genetically engineered wheat variety that frightens aphids away. The GM wheat emits a pheromone that is similar to what aphids release when they are under attack. The pheromone also attracts tiny parasitoid wasps that offer a secondary line of defense against the aphids, according to John Pickett, scientific leader of chemical ecology at Rothamsted Research in eastern England.
“It eats the aphids from the inside out so it takes out the population on the crop,” Pickett told Reuters in London. “We are providing a totally new way of controlling the pests that doesn’t rely on toxic modes of action.”
The wheat was modified using a gene found in peppermint plants, which was bred into the wheat cultivar Cadenza. If the field trials are successful, the technology could be adapted for other crops.
Anti-GMO group GM Freeze spoke out against the use of GM organisms and raised its concerns that there were better alternatives for controlling aphids than resorting to genetic modification.