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B. Entomologists Devise a New Way to Deal with Cotton Pests

Narrator: This is Science Today. The nation's cotton industry has long been trying to alleviate the devastating effects of a pest called the pink bollworm, a picky critter that doesn't visit or infest any other plant - just commercial cotton. Entomologist Thomas Miller of the University of California, Riverside has been working on the pink bollworm for several years and says 25% of the cotton grown in the United States is produced in California.

Miller: Since 1965 when it arrived in California, the California cotton growers have been supporting a sterile insect program. That means, you mass rear pink bollworms, sterilize them with radiation and then release them in the affected areas.

Narrator: But Miller says radiation used to sterilize the insects causes side effects, so they've devised a way to genetically alter the pink bollworm.

Miller: These tests were all done under federal permits in enclosed field cages with several layers of confinement. Based on that experience, we now know that you can improve the fitness of transgenic pink bollworms and improve their performance compared to non-transgenics.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.