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Tag Archives: entomology
A flurry of recent scientific papers, and a blizzard of subsequent news hype, has led a lot of people to conclude that the mystery of colony collapse disorder (CCD), which causes beehives to die suddenly, has been solved. Indeed, a … Continue reading
In 1955, the World Health Organization launched an ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria. The effort relied on new, synthetic antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and a miraculous new insecticide called DDT. Initially, it went pretty well: several countries’ malaria rates … Continue reading
Count me among those surprised by this: About a year ago, genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes were released into the wild—and they have been flying under the world’s radar screen until last week. On 11 November, British company Oxitec announced that … Continue reading
When I was in graduate school, some colleagues once served a round of drinks in 50mL conical centrifuge tubes. If only someone had dipped a pipet into one of those shots, we might have beaten these guys to publication: Researchers … Continue reading
In a new twist on the elegant sterile insect technique, researchers have now made a strain of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes where the females can’t fly. As the accompanying press release explains: UCI researchers and colleagues from Oxitec Ltd. and the … Continue reading
Flies are wonderful for genetics research, but it’s hard to say whether their scientific contributions as a model system can ever outweigh the Dipteran order’s crimes against humanity. Here’s another reason to hate them: Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg … Continue reading
Entomologically-minded readers of the Federal Register (you know who you are) might have noticed an interesting item shortly before Christmas: in the 19 December issue, the Department of Agriculture posted this note asking for the public’s thoughts about genetically modifying insect pests. Specifically, they’re working on inserting some choice genes into fruit flies and pink bollworms, then releasing the re-engineered critters into the environment. I’m sure the usual naysayers will soon be screaming about Frankenflies (which, by the way, would be a good name for a band), but this project could actually be a tremendous boon to the environment.
Pink bollworm life cycle, image courtesy USDA Continue reading
The US Agency for International Development just awarded a $150 million grant to open a new front in the Bush administration’s anti-malaria effort. The press release, however, has a rather obvious omission. Here’s how it starts:
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the awarding of a $150 million Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) contract to a consortium headed by Research Triangle Institute (RTI). Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) is the application of safe insecticides to the indoor walls and ceilings of a home or structure in order to interrupt the spread of malaria by killing mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. Malaria is the number one killer in Africa.
And exactly what “safe insecticides” are they referring to? DDT, of course. As I pointed out in an earlier post, DDT can indeed be quite safe in this application, but its revival poses some thorny problems that the Administration might not be prepared to handle. In any case, it’s unfortunate that they felt the need to censor the press release like this. Is this the start of a pattern of obfuscation in this new effort? Continue reading