Culturas geneticamente modificadas que produzem proteínas tóxicas para as pragas que as comem, são já uma realidade. Mas os extraordinários avanços da biotecnologia actual permitiram criar plantas que literalmente reescrevem o código genético dos insectos que as comem; um processo chamado interferência do RNA:
RNA interference occurs naturally in animals ranging from worms to humans. It’s a process whereby double-stranded RNA copies of specific genes prevent cells from translating those genes into proteins. The new genetically modified plants carry genes for double-stranded RNA targeted to particular insect genes…
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Shanghai, made cotton plants that silence a gene that allows cotton bollworms to process the toxin gossypol, which occurs naturally in cotton. Bollworms that eat the genetically engineered cotton can’t make their toxin-processing proteins, and they die. Researchers at Monsanto and Devgen, a Belgian company, made corn plants that silence a gene essential for energy production in corn rootworms; ingestion wipes out the worms within 12 days.