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Plants can be given genes that help the plants' bodies make substances to fight pests. These self-made pesticides are called "plant-incorporated protectants" (PIPs). PIP-producing crops are sometimes called "genetically modified" (GM) or "genetically engineered" (GE).

PIPs can help plants resist viruses, bacteria and insects. When PIP crops target insects, they can be called "insect-resistant." PIP-producing plants can help growers lower the amount of pesticides they use on their fields.

Some of the crops that can be made to produce PIPs are corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes and plums. However, this does not mean that all of the crops (corn, soybean, etc.) you see in farmers' fields are making their own pesticides. Other forms of these crops are still conventionally or organically grown.

PIP plants are regulated as pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA looks at the risks of each PIP before it can be registered as a pesticide. This review aims to protect human and environmental health. EPA considers several factors in these reviews:

In 2023, the U.S. EPA updated its regulations. Some PIPS do not need to be registered, or be required to have a tolerance for residue on food. They are still regulated by the U.S. EPA, however. PIPs are exempt from registration when they "both pose no greater risk than PIPS that EPA has already concluded meet safety requirements, and when they could have otherwise been created through conventional breeding."

Another genetic modification: Herbicide-tolerant plants

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

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Last updated August 11, 2023