Weed fighting lawns, a new chick magnet, potato flakes for breakfast and is GM working for cotton growers?


Today at Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at Chemistry for a Sustainable World an international conference organised by RACI, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Could your lawn, golf course or pasture make its own weedkiller?

Leslie Weston has discovered and patented two weedkillers made by plants. Now she’s investigating Patterson’s curse to see what tricks it uses to invade grasslands and repel herbivores. Her vision is to use plants or plant extracts to control plants, as an alternative to synthetic pesticides and herbicides.

But Leslie’s team at Charles Sturt University in Wagga is taking the idea much further. At the conference she will present the results of her studies into Patterson’s curse, fine fescue and sorghum.

A new chick magnet – if you’re a moth

A plant perfume that attracts female moths—a world-first attractant invented by the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC and its partner Ag Biotech Australia—is already reducing pesticide use by Queensland and NSW cotton growers.

Peter Gregg and his colleagues have developed a ‘moth magnet’ that attracts Helicoverpa, the cotton boll worm moth which causes billions of dollars of damage to agriculture world-wide.

What difference is GM making to Australian cotton crops?

Gary Fitt from CSIRO Entomology in Queensland will report that farmers using Bollgard II GM cotton have reduced pesticide use by up to 90% providing on-farm benefits and greatly reducing environmental disruption.

Potato flakes for breakfast?

Resistant starch could transform our breakfasts, our gut health and help us lose weight.

Paul MacLean from the University of Colorado has shown that replacing simple sugars and digestible starch with starch that is resistant to digestion in the small intestine can have big consequences. “It encourages us to burn fat, improves insulin sensitivity and enhances a sense of fullness. It may also help us keep our weight down after dieting.”

You can add resistant starch to your diet with potatoes, whole grains, legumes, unripe bananas, and cooked and cooled starchy foods like sushi and potato salad.

But, says Paul, “The big public health benefits will come when breakfast cereal makers incorporate resistant starch into cereals bringing improved metabolic health to almost every Western breakfast table.

Other stories:

  • Fighting termites – with a natural chemical from an Aussie tree
  • Tracking malaria-resistant mosquitos: a new tool
  • Use your spray smarter: save money and the environment
  • Greening agricultural spray

More information on all these stories at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/blog/raci

For interviews: Niall Byrne, 0417 131 977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au
AJ Epstein, +61 (433) 339-141, aj@scienceinpublic.com.au

The Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s 13th International Convention is being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre in conjunction with the 12th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry.

The events’ major sponsors are: Croplife International, Nufarm, Syngenta and Sigma Aldrich. The media program is supported by the Commonwealth Government’s National Enabling Technologies Strategy (NETS) and is delivered by Science in Public