The Birds and the Bees and the Sexy Plant

Recently a man was arrested in England for sexually assaulting a horse; so when I heard about ‘sexy plant’, I must confess that I started to worry.

However, Sexy Plant is in fact nothing more sinister than a sustainable alternative to current pest management and crop protection techniques, which nowadays rely on pesticides and chemically synthetized pheromones, which are chemical signals that insects use to communicate.

Sexy plant is a synthetic plant capable of producing insect sexual pheromones and releasing them into the air. High concentrations of sexual pheromones in the air prevent male insects from finding the females. Using this mate disruption strategy, damage in crops caused by larvae is avoided.

So, Sexy Plant is basically a form of mass coitus interruptus, and although it hasn’t been tested on horses yet, it does seem to work with moths.

Animal protection groups are divided as to what is worse: to sexually confuse a few insects, or to have millions of humans dying of starvation due to crop failure. The jury is still out on that one.

The sexy plant team achieved another kind of success when in September 2015 their project was selected as one of the 10 best solutions in the fight against climate change ideas competition held in Amsterdam, as well as being voted by the participants as the most popular idea in the European Climate Launchpad, part of Climate-KIC, the European Union’s main initiative against climate change.

The team was represented in Amsterdam by Alfredo Quijano, Alba Rubert and Alejandra González, although the full team, based at the Valencia Polytechnic University, is much largersexy plant.

 

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