Pest resistant maize

THE DAYS of the European corn borer, a notorious maize pest found in North America and Europe, seem numbered now that researchers have been able to inject into susceptible crops a gene fatal to the insect (BiolTechnology, Vol 11, No 2).

But the gene, which has been taken from a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, is unable to produce enough of the protein to kill the pests. So researchers at Ciba-Geigy Seeds, a Swiss agricultural-biotechnology company, synthetically modified the gene before introducing it into an elite variety of maize. Scientists say the new maize variety could save corn worth millions of dollars that is destroyed every year by the pest.