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Eyes on the Moths

Genetically altered diamondback moths are being tested on a cabbage patch in upstate New York, the Atlantic reports.

The diamondback moth is an agricultural pest that causes billions of dollars of damage every year, especially to crops like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, it adds. Biotech firm Oxitec has developed male moths that include a gene that, when passed on to daughters, leads them to die. Eventually, the Atlantic notes, male moths will have nobody left to mate with. Oxitec has also pursued this approach to control Zika- and dengue-spreading mosquitos as well as fruit flies.

In upstate New York, Cornell University's Anthony Sheldon has now planted a cabbage patch where these moths have been released. The test, which began in August, will run until it gets too cold out for the moths, the Atlantic adds, noting that it's the first test of such insects in the US.

"I'll be very interested to see if this thing succeeds," Fred Gould, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, tells the Atlantic