Developers of a biological product that would enable corn to grow its own pesticide say they will seek permission from federal authorities to test the product in four states. The bioinsecticide was developed by Crop Genetics International Corp. of Hanover, Md., and is aimed at controlling the European corn borer, a pest estimated to cause more than $400 million damage to the nation's corn crop, said John Henry, the company's president and chief executive.
A first round of tests was conducted in Maryland this year and Crop Genetics plans to ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency next week for approval to conduct tests in 1989, he said.
To make the bioinsecticide, Crop Genetics scientists took a gene from a single-cell soil bacterium that produces a protein and spliced it into endophytes, microorganisms that live in plants, Henry said. When the borer eats the plant, the protein becomes toxic and destroys the insect's stomach.