Scientists have bred a genetically modified moth in order to reduce the level of serious pest damage caused to cabbages, kale and broccoli. Diamondback moths are one of the world’s most destructive insect pests. By gorging on cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale, the creatures globally cost farmers up to $5billion (£3.2million) each year.

To tackle the problem, experts have engineered male diamondback moths with a “self-limiting” gene that produce female offspring that do not survive long enough to have their own offspring. Early tests have shown that the genetically modified moths can reduce greenhouse populations within eight weeks. Follow-up studies in the US will include field cage tests this followed by small-scale field releases. Dr Neil Morrison, from the Oxford University spin-out company Oxitec, which created the moth, said: “This research is opening new doors for the future of farming with pest control methods that are non-toxic and pesticide-free. MORE