How easily we forget...
...the bug eating miracle known as the cane toad.
Australia's Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has asked researchers to replicate peptides, the nastiest bits of spider venom, in the hope they make pesticides to which insects do not develop resistance. “We know that products from spiders have a wide range of insect-killing abilities that prevent insects …
...the bug eating miracle known as the cane toad.
Anyone know if cane toads are immune to spider venom?
It'd be just our luck if Australia's unrivalled ecology of teeth, spines, venom and general fuck-you attitude had found its match in the one animal less cuddly than a funnel web spider.
Erm... no, actually. No-one has forgot the cane-toad. Every single bloody article about Australian agriculture has a reference to the cane-toad (including this one).
Strangely enough, it is precisely because of the cane-toad issue that this this research has been going on in Australia - they are now so paranoid about bringing in new species, they are spending lots of money cataloging and attempting to utilize native species and their genes and proteins.
I was referring to those people that think screwing around with Australian wildlife is the way forward. They are the ones that have forgotten.
Spraying fields is what gives insects their resistance. Areas receiving partial doses breed insects having the most natural resistance. No such thing happens with actual spiders. Regardless of whether the victim is killed or stunned by the venom, step two is fatal mummification. Imagine what would happen to pest populations if spraying spider venom renders spiders harmless.
So stage two of the research is implanting the spider venom genes directly in the plants, along with the web-spinning genes.
Reminds me of a book plot. I'm just out to watch a meteor shower....
Or maybe insects *have* evolved resistance, and spiders have responded by evolving their venom. Either way, it doesn't end well for the humble arachnid.
Regarding book plots, I thought the book "Web" by the same author, far more frightening with regard to spiders. I admit I'm not an arachanphobe, but I had one or two twings after reading it.
Doh!! twings == twinges.
(blame it on my laptop keyboard!)
Next on News at 10: SHOCK: Industrial quantities of poison sprayed onto food found to be not good.
[...] the products themselves are reasonably benign on the environment [...]
For some reason I find that statement less than reassuring...
Exactly what I thought, you'd be amazed what big agri considers reasonable.
OK, so we use spider venom against pests, right, good. But spider venom needs to be sprayed over a large area, in high concentrations, that sounds expensive. And ever so slightly dodgy. What is needed then, is some clever way of using just a small ammount of venom, but more accurately targeted.... Hmmm... Some kind of poison-injecting mechanism inteligently targeting bugs and pests. A bit like a spider perhaps?
1. Spider venom covers large area.
2. Insects vulnerable to spider venom die.
3. Spiders die from lack of food.
Also, venom != poison. One is injected, the other ingested.
Why not spend the money that would be used to develop this to pay people to be infertile at $200 per year.
Less people, less need for intensive farming, less need for yields, less need for damaging bio controls.
Can anyone actually think of a major world problem that wouldn't be solved/easier to solve if the worlds population was 10% of where it currently is ?
And you think that somehow, magically, the venom will just wash off the plant before you harvest it and eat it? If a little will kill insects, imagine how good a job a lot of it will do on humans when it's sprayed on their food plants....or on them by mistake...yeah... i can't see any problems here....
"“There are already a couple of products on the market – either viruses or fungi – being used for controlling insects."
I didn't know this.
Aren't some of the bee colony collapses blamed on a fungus?
Nope, none at all. The testing of any new insect control mechanism focuses specifically on honey bees as beneficial insects - any possible damage and the products are nixed straight away.
Honeybee Deaths: Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Corn Insecticides, http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/315680/20120317/honeybee-death-insecticide-colony-collapse-disorder.htm
Apparently honey bee colony collapse may stem from the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. While pest insects haven't developed a resistance to it (yet), its persistence has become a serious problem for beneficial insects. So who knows what would happen with a spider venom-based insecticide?
In 2010 research was published by Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk et al. on Colony Collapse Disorder. This suggested that fungal and viral infections together were responsible. It also claimed, contrary to the views of other researchers and many beekeepers, that insecticides and pesticides did not significantly harm bees.
Bayer Crop Science had apparently funded the research. There seems to have been a certain amount of discussion as to whether there was a conflict of interest.
For a start you need a really tiny stool...