Correspondence to: Thomas A Miller, Entomology Department, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92507, USA. E-mail:


Enthusiasm greeted the development of synthetic organic insecticides in the mid-twentieth century, only to see this give way to dismay and eventually scepticism and outright opposition by some. Regardless of how anyone feels about this issue, insecticides and other pesticides have become indispensable, which creates something of a dilemma. Possibly as a result of the shift in public attitude towards insecticides, genetic engineering of microbes was first met with scepticism and caution among scientists. Later, the development of genetically modified crop plants was met with an attitude that hardened into both acceptance and hard-core resistance. Transgenic insects, which came along at the dawn of the twenty-first century, encountered an entrenched opposition. Those of us responsible for studying the protection of crops have been affected more or less by these protagonist and antagonistic positions, and the experiences have often left one thoughtfully mystified as decisions are made by non-participants. Most of the issues boil down to concerns over delivery mechanisms. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry