Magazine article The Futurist

New Alarms about Pesticide Resistance. (Technology)

Magazine article The Futurist

New Alarms about Pesticide Resistance. (Technology)

Article excerpt

A newly discovered gene mutation in fruit flies makes them resistant to a range of commonly available--and chemically unrelated--pesticides. This finding by researchers at the University of Melbourne and at Australia's Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research could ultimately effect broad changes in insect pest control.

Researchers believe that the gene mutation in fruit flies (Drosophila) arose soon after the introduction of the widely banned pesticide DDT. Normally a species will lose mutations that protect it from a particular pesticide once the pesticide is no longer used, but, alarmingly, the fruit flies' gene mutation persisted despite a worldwide decline in DDT use.

Scientists are also concerned by the fact that fruit flies, rare targets for pesticides in the first place, are now resistant to other, unrelated chemicals to which they were never exposed before.

"The fact that a single mutation can confer resistance to DDT and a range of unrelated pesticides, even to those the species has never encountered, reveals new risks and costs to the chemical control of pest insects," University of Melbourne geneticist Phil Batterham says. …

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