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Argentine award for finding insect-resistant GMO

An Argentine researcher has won a Ministry of Science award for the development of a genetically modified insect-resistant plant. Dr Raquel Chan of the Argentine university, Universidad Nacional del Litoral (Santa Fe), was awarded the prize, Innovar 2008, in the agro-innovation category, in October. Her research team incorporated a sunflower gene into a plant that suffers fewer insect attacks, and would allow for fewer insecticide applications. The gene had been studied and patented – as HaHb4 - for its drought tolerance capacity. The academics say that the finding followed a pest infestation in the experimental growth chamber. They observed that the GM plant suffered “far fewer” attacks, leading to a new study that found the gene maintained the plant’s defence mechanisms “active and alert”. The technology is being tested on maize, wheat and soybeans with “encouraging results”.

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