Research in pest management concentrates on developing new ways of controlling pests of agriculturally important crops. Chemical means are still being studied, but more environmentally friendly methods such as biocontrol, genetic engineering, and preventative measures are increasingly being used.
Genetic engineering (see article on biotechnology) is being used to develop crops that are resistant to pests, such as Bt corn. However, genetic engineering is also being used to control pests themselves, by breeding pests in the laboratory that are less harmful (eg. feed on an alternate, non-commercially-valuable crops; or perhaps are sterile), and then releasing them into the wild where they will hopefully interbreed with the wild population.
Bacteria and fungi are being investigated as possible "natural" controls of pests. Since many pests have natural controls in the wild, studies are underway to find these natural controls, cultivate them, and commercialize them. For example, studies are underway to determine which fungi are responsible for insect mortality and if there is a commercially viable way to produce these fungi for mass inoculation of plants.
Other biological controls being contemplated include the release of naturally occurring predators to control the pest population. Studies are underway not only to determine if these predators are effective, but if such a release is actually more harmful than beneficial (eg. the introduction of the cane toad to eradicate an invasive species, and it became an invasive species itself).
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