of Tennessee Medical Entomologists Aid Troops in Iraq
As the war in Iraq deepens, there
is trouble brewing in Middle Eastern deserts and river basins. Insect
According to a Scripps-Howard News Service report, in a few weeks
the weather will enable a host of insects to pose health problems
for U.S. troops.
It’s the job of two University of Tennessee alumni to combat
those problems, along with the insects that cause them. Lt. Pete
Obenauer is a medical entomologist with the U.S. Navy serving both
Navy and Marine troops. Capt. Mark Carder is an entomologist with
the U.S. Army. Both hold master’s degrees in entomology from
UT’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Both are stationed with the U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.
“Military entomologists are part of preventative medicine
units,” says Reid Gerhardt, professor of entomology with the
university’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.
“They keep track of the numbers of potential disease vectors
(insects that transmit disease organisms). They determine whether
problem insects are present, where they are present and are also
involved in insect control if the troops start having problems.”
Female mosquitos are expected to be the biggest problem, arising
from swamps fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and potentially
transmitting malaria. Sand flies are another pest that can carry
sand fly fever, a virus that capable of putting soldiers out of
action. There is also a family of filth flies that have no common
names, Gerhardt says, “that you don’t want to deal with.”
Those threats along with controlling flies and other insects that
are common in military encampments will likely keep the entomologists
“They’re going to have to deal with whatever shows up,”
Gerhardt says. # # # Contact: Margot Pantalone or Patricia McDaniels,
Not a good year to send fruit
Valley Roadrunner VALLEY CENTER'S HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER
By DAVID ROSS
That fruit basket that you were going to deliver to Pomona when
you visit Aunt Hattie— Better rethink it. This won’t
be a very good year for sending or taking produce out of Valley
Center for the holidays. Consider FTD or a Candygram this year.
While Valley Center’s farmers are wrestling with the worst
threat to local agriculture in 50 years, the people who really need
to take our Mexfly infestation seriously are not the farmers so
much as the weekend growers. You know, the people who have a dozen
fruit trees or the folks who operate “fruit stands”
off the tailgate of their pick-up.
You may pick up an apple or an orange that you grew on your own
property and say, “This fruit looks just fine!” and
contemplate sharing your abundance with someone who is not so fortunate
as to live in Valley Center.
Please don’t. The Mexican fruit fly lays its eggs in about
40 different kinds of fruits, and most of them are grown in Valley
Chances are very good that whoever brought the infested fruit into
Valley Center may have brought something else illegally into the
country, like themselves. But the porous border situation is not
our subject this week. Keeping our tainted fruit to ourselves is.
The fruit fly menace threatens not just the economy of Valley Center
and Pauma Valley, but that of the county and the state.
This is serious, folks. And if we don’t pull together in this
time of great need, this problem could be with us for a long, long
Weapons for Waging Economic Warfare
Lt Col Robert P. Kadlec, USAF
The final decade of the twentieth century has positioned
the world at the threshold of tremendous opportunity. The collapse
of the Soviet Union has dissolved the bipolar world and created
the opening to forge a new international security environment. The
preeminence of politico-military competition is slowly giving way
to politico-economic competition. As Shintaro Ishihara predicts,
“The twenty-first century will be a century of economic warfare.”
While military power remains important, its context and type are
changing. The focus of many developing nations is to seek weapons
of mass destruction (WMD)—nuclear, biological, and chemical
weapons—to meet regional security concerns. The parallel emergence
of economic competition and its likely accompanying conflicts with
the proliferation of WMD raises the possibility of a new form of
warfare. This includes the development and use of biological warfare
(BW) against economic targets.
Using BW to attack livestock, crops, or ecosystems offers an adversary
the means to wage a potentially subtle yet devastating form of warfare,
one which would impact the political, social, and economic sectors
of a society and potentially of national survival itself.
For both developed and developing nations, nonfuel commodities present
an important source of national security and prosperity. In the
United States alone, the agricultural sector is an $800 billion
industry. Besides providing for the nourishment of the US population
and a significant portion of the world, agriculture generated approximately
$67 billion in export revenues in 1991. This revenue represents
approximately 15 percent of the total US exports for that particular
year. Agricultural exports have been an important source for redressing
the US trade deficit. Moreover, agriculture is now one of but a
handful of sectors that generates a trade surplus for the US. In
1992 it created an estimated $18-billion surplus.
Lesser developed and developing nations and other nations whose
economies are in transition have significant agricultural sectors
that provide important contributions of food and revenue to their
economies. This observation is especially true of nonoil producing
nations. Yet, even with productive agricultural systems, most if
not all nations in the world are food importers.
Trends in agricultural systems, particularly food production, indicate
that fewer numbers of people and hectares are involved in agricultural
production. In developed market economies, the percentage of the
economically active population in agriculture declined by 31.2 percent
from 1980 to 1992. A similar, yet not as dramatic, decline was noted
in developing countries, where the numbers of people involved in
agriculture declined by 11.3 percent during the same period. Despite
that decline, the overall agricultural productivity in both the
developed and developing worlds increased by 45.3 percent and 25.2
This increase in productivity has resulted from the spread of modern
farming technology, high-yield crop varieties, and potent fertilizers
and pesticides. The goal of many developing and developed nations
is to become self-sufficient in food and other agricultural products.
Has Become Intense
Efforts to remove trade-distorting domestic subsidies and limits
to market access to agriculture were objectives of the Uruguay Round
of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. Market access-limitation
policies essentially maintain domestic prices above world prices
and isolate domestic producers from competition and the volatility
of the world market.8 While included on the Uruguay Round’s
agenda, tremendous resistance was encountered from several important
nations. The United States wanted to protect dairy products, sugar,
cotton, and peanuts. Japan wanted to prevent rice imports. Despite
efforts to settle differences on issues of market access, internal
supports, and export competition, agreement on many items was not
Part of the economic revolution in the world today is the explosion
of biotechnology. Biotechnology has been a significant reason why
agricultural systems are much more productive. As alluded to earlier,
the development of higher-yield crops results partly from genetic
recombinant engineering, which takes genes coded for greater productivity
and resistance to disease and drought and inserts them into a particular
species of crop.
Besides enhancing the productivity and heartiness of food or cash
crops, methods of biological control are increasingly relied upon
to provide an environment-friendly means of controlling economically
significant pests and diseases. Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.). is
a well-known example of a naturally occurring sporulated bacteria
which effectively controls caterpillars, particularly tomato worms.
A variant of B.t., called B.t. israelensis or B.t.i., has shown
its effectiveness in controlling malaria-bearing mosquitoes and
blackflies which carry the parasite that causes river blindness.
Efforts are now under way to insert the gene from B.t. into such
plants as cotton. Initial research indicates that this procedure
enables cotton plants to resist the boll weevil (anthonomus grandis).
This particular pest caused an estimated $50-billion loss in US
cotton revenues from 1909 to 1949.
In California’s Imperial Valley the pink bollworm caterpillar
has caused the amount of land planted with cotton to drop from 140,000
acres to only 7,000 during the past 17 years. Today US cotton farmers
spend $500 million on pesticides.