Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working on a super mutant corn earworm sexually transmitted disease that could help farmers combat the pest. The University says that the virus sterilizes the pest and that researchers are working on a form of the virus that could sterilize 100 percent of the corn earworms it infects, making a population of the pest unable to reproduce. Currently, the wild virus sterilizes about one-third of the corn earworms it infects. If successful, the researchers say the virus could greatly reduce the chemicals needed to control the earworm. DTN reports that much research lies ahead for the bio-insecticide, including addressing safety concerns. Beneficial insects such as honeybees and monarchs do not appear to be susceptible, but some fellow moths might be harmed by the virus. The researchers say to convince regulatory authorities that the virus is safe, the effects must be very narrow and targeted.
Researchers say early discussions with a USDA regulatory assistance group suggest that registering the virus as a bio-insecticide would require a five-year timeframe once the application is submitted.
Source: NAFB News Service