Locusts could be genetically transformed from swarming plunderers that devour entire crops into harmless grasshoppers, scientists believe.

Experts at a conference on desert locusts said on Wednesday such a mutation might be possible with long-term research if the international community supplies the funds.Scientists at the conference in Cairo stressed the importance of studying the genetic makeup of the locust - a large migratory grasshopper. Such research could also provide a means of slowing the insect's reproduction, they said.