Drone-mounted cannon fires irradiated moths at crops

And if they’re using this on GM cotton, we should be able to give palpitations to every Luddite in the country!

Keeping moths away from cotton is typically seen as a good thing. But the United States Department of Agriculture has other ideas. In a pilot program, they’re using drones to drop thousands of lab-grown pink bollworm moths directly onto the cotton fields.

Drones are a cheaper delivery method than the manual throw-moths-out-of-a-small airplane method that has been used in the past, so if the tests continue to go well, you might be seeing more moths flying out of drones in the future.

But why bomb cotton fields with moths? Pink bollworms are a notorious cotton pest. Once they start eating their way through the seeds and fibers, they reduce the quality of the cotton dramatically. So the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service came up with a plan. If they raised pink bollworms in a lab, dyed them red to make them identifiable, and then irradiated them to make them sterile they’d have a population that could safely be released into cotton fields. The idea is that if the wild pink bollworms mate with the sterile pink bollworm moths, instead of each other, the sterile moths won’t be able to reproduce, effectively stopping an infestation in its tracks.

If you click through to the article, there’s a wee video at the bottom from the USDA at the bottom.

Truly, I wasn’t kidding about GM cotton. Actually, I’m wearing a pair of sweat pants, right now, that probably are 100% GM cotton. Hasn’t turned my butt glow-in-the-dark purple, yet.

DRONE is a scary word for my friends who already have problems with me taking sides in civil wars – while advocating that Uncle Sugar keep our military and political noses out of other nation’s civil wars. Even though we’re talking about a device a half-step above a hobbyist’s RC airplane kit.

And, of course, irradiation is a word that gives night sweats to folks who don’t know a damned thing about half-life. We could end almost all foodborne illness with gamma radiation as part of food processing; but, that’s way too scary for lots of folks. Even though there is absolutely zero scientific evidence of danger. Only an end to spoilage and food poisoning.

5 thoughts on “Drone-mounted cannon fires irradiated moths at crops

  1. Rainy Day Woman says:

    “During a large-scale, four-year field deployment of this strategy in Arizona, resistance of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) to Bt cotton did not increase. A multitactic eradication program that included the release of sterile moths reduced pink bollworm abundance by 99%, while eliminating insecticide sprays against this key invasive pest.” http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v28/n12/full/nbt.1704.html Re: GM (Bt) cotton sweats see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bt_cotton also under controversies: “Bt Cotton responsible for suicides in rain-fed areas, says study” (The Hindu, June 24, 2015) http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bt-cotton-responsible-for-suicides-in-rainfed-areas-says-study/article7337684.ece and “Is Bt or GMO Cotton the Reason for Indian Farmer Suicides” (Monsanto Newsroom) http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/india-farmer-suicides.aspx
    Flashback: “Facts versus fears: DDT” http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF/C06/C06Links/www.altgreen.com.au/Chemicals/ddt.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.