BT Crops are defined as crops which are genetically transformed to prompt one or more proteins from the bacterium. In this process, BT genes are inserted which helps the plant to produce proteins to fight against the insects or pest which results in destroying the yield. The proteins produced by the plants are known as cry protein.
What does BT stand for? Why is it used in crops?
BT stands for Bacillus thuringiensis.
Bacillus thuringiensis is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium which is mainly found in the soil and hence it is also known as soil dwelling bacterium. This bacterium produces a protein which acts as a toxin for those insects destroying the yield. This bacterium is mainly used in the sprays for commercial agriculture and for organic farming. The use of this spray on crops are safe for the environment and causes no harm to the consumers.
The practice of using BT started in the year 1996 and began with using small quantities of genes from BT. With the help of this genetic transformation, plants used to create the necessary proteins to protect the crop from pests. All over the globe, in a land spanning 29 million acres, BT corn, BT potato, and BT cotton were grown in the year 1999. Relying on this technology alone, approximately 92 million dollars was saved by the United States.
Here is the list of few pests which destroy the yield like:
- European and southwestern corn borer.
- Tobacco and cotton budworm.
- Pink bollworm and the Colorado potato beetle.
List of BT crops available in the market.
These crops include corn, potato, cotton, cottonwood, brinjal, rice, soy. These crops are called as genetically modified crops as they are transformed and modified through genetic engineering.
How does the cry protein work?
When an insect feeds on the plants, the cry protein present in the plants crystallizes the digestive system of insects and it starves to death since the cry protein is toxic to organism’s digestive tract.Remember that it affects insect’s digestive system and has no effect on human’s digestive system.
Advantages of BT Crops.
- They help in controlling the soil pollution as the use of synthetic pesticides are reduced when the plants begin to produce the toxins by themselves in own tissues.
- BT Crops help in protecting the beneficial insects.
- Reduced manpower and labor charges.
- The pests hiding inside plant parts are controlled effectively.
- It is cost effective as multiple sprays are not needed.
Disadvantages of BT Crops.
- The BT crops are more costly than the normally grown crops.
- There is a possibility for allergic reactions while using these crops.
- BT Crops are not effective for certain pests including spider mites, seed corn, etc.
From the above discussion, it could be said that BT crops would dominate the agriculture sector in the coming years.