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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