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Raw coffee beans tested as insecticide

May 21, 2010 at 1:05 PM

CAMPINAS, Brazil, May 21 (UPI) -- Proteins in raw coffee beans kill insects and could become the next generation of insecticides to protect food crops, scientists in Brazil said.

Coffee beans contain large amounts of globulins, proteins found in smaller amounts in peas and beans, said biologist Paulo Mazzafera of the State University of Campinas, Brazil.

Mazzafera and his team found even tiny amounts of the coffee protein quickly killed as many as half of the cowpea weevil larva it was tested against. The protein appears to be harmless to people.

Scientists in the future could insert genes from insect-killing proteins into food crops, such as grains, so the plants could produce their own insecticides, Mazzafera wrote in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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