Biotech cotton - a budding field
The cotton variety Ingard carries a Bt bacterial gene that protects the plant from bollworm pests. The first genetically modified crop released commercially in Australia, it has reduced pesticide applications by an average of 50 per cent compared to conventional crops and allowed two-to-three fold increases in beneficial insects. The industry is using a pre-emptive strategy to counter the risk of resistance to Bt protein developing in bollworms. This includes compulsory planting of refugia crops to reduce selection pressure. A new more effective GM variety, Bollgard, with two Bt genes, has made its debut, further reducing the risk of resistance.