Genetically modified organisms have been around for over 20 years; The New York Times looks to the fields to see if the technology has lived up to its promises.
The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.
But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.
Genetically engineered, bacteria-infected and sterilized mosquitoes are among the cutting-edge weapons being tested against diseases like Zika and dengue, even as some experts say old-fashioned tools like DDT may be worth discussing.
Every weekday at 7 a.m., a van drives slowly through the southeastern Brazilian city of Piracicaba carrying a precious cargo — mosquitoes. More than 100,000 of them are dumped from plastic containers out the van’s window, and they fly off to find mates. But these are not ordinary mosquitoes. They have been genetically engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, which die before they can reach adulthood. In small tests, this approach has lowered mosquito populations by 80 percent or more.