Another pulp skiffy trope turns out to be (possibly) a little less pulpy: is the pepper mild mottle virus making people sick?
Scientists have already created genetically modified crops that produce proteins that are toxic to the pests that eat them. Now they have gone a step further and created plants that literally rewrite the genetic code of the insects that eat them. The genetically modified crops use a process called RNA interference:
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.