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University 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 trouble.

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 busy.

“They’re going to have to deal with whatever shows up,” Gerhardt says. # # # Contact: Margot Pantalone or Patricia McDaniels, 865-974-7141

Not a good year to send fruit baskets


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 Center.

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 time.

Biological 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 percent respectively.

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.

Competition 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 reached.

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.

Informative Fly Related Web Sites Of Interest

University of Kentucky Fly Info     USDA War On Inescts

Managing Insect Pests Of Horses

Those Pesky Flies    The Garden Safari (Great Pictures)

Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory

Cambridge University - History Of Pest Control

Christian Science Monitor - "Crawlies War"

Manual of Naval Preventive Medicine

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