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Ecological engineering could offer cheaper, more efficient long-term strategies for pest control than genetically modified (GM) crops, say Josef Settele and colleagues in Nature.

Ecological engineering in irrigated rice — controlling insect pests through landscape management — has almost eradicated insecticide use in the field sites of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

The authorsargue that, unlike GM rice, ecological engineering does not undermine the independence of farmers in developing countries by relying on big business for pest control.

In such a well-studied crop as rice, ecological engineering could be implemented immediately, they say. Future research should focus on developing sustainable management schemes for other key crops.

Link to full article in Nature