GMO Wheat Intended To Repel Aphids Fails Completely In Field-Scale Tests

Published on June 30th, 2015 | by

June 30th, 2015 by

In another show of just how much genetically modified agricultural crops (GMO crops) consistently fail to live up to the hype placed on them, recent field-scale tests of a GMO wheat variety “designed” to repel aphids have shown the new GMO crop to be nearly completely ineffective. A total flop in other words — one that cost several million dollars it should be remembered.

The new GMO wheat was theorized to be able to repel aphids via the ability to produce a “special smell”, that supposedly the aphids would avoid.


Given that a field of monoculture agricultural crops is essentially a open buffet to many species of insects, I admit to being very skeptical as to how anyone could in good faith believe that this strategy would work. Would a simple smell-deterrent work to keep hungry humans from a huge “field” of barbecued meat?

Unsurprisingly, despite the very poor field results the researchers intend to press ahead. (Towards some sort of “glorious future” where everything is under absolute human control no doubt. A surrogate heaven for those with that sort of belief system I suppose.)

Reuters provides more information:

The work at Britain’s Rothamsted Research institute in southern England was the first test of a crop engineered to release an anti-insect pheromone, or smell, and it provoked protests from anti-GM activists who threatened — but failed — to rip up the plants.

While the crop survived human attack, however, it fared less well against the aphids. Results from the five-year project published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday showed the GM wheat did not repel aphid pests in the field as hoped, despite initial success in laboratory tests.

The Rothamsted team added genes to make the wheat produce the pheromone (E)-beta-farnesene, which is found naturally in other plants, including peppermint, and acts as an alarm call telling aphids to disperse. It is not clear why the GM crop failed to work as expected but scientists said the aphids may have simply become attuned to the constant alarm signal, in the same way that people get used a car alarm that never stops ringing.

What a surprise. A gross oversimplification accompanied by assumptions, leading to complete ineffectivity. In other words — the hallmark trait of “findings” produced in a “controlled environment” being subjected to a world with far greater interactions, contexts, inputs, and motives.

For more information on GMOs see:

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.