Friday, June 20, 2008

Chemical Warfare Against Top Predators and Scavengers

Kenyans are using carbofuran, an organophosphate pesticide, which is essentially a nerve agent similar to Sarin on predators and scavengers. Nerve agents inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine by acetylcholinesterase. Numerous lions, eagles, vultures and hyenas have died. The antidote is administration of atropine. You combat (actually compete) one poison with another poison. Insecticides kill birds almost instantly due to their high metabolic rates and likely due to the fact that their acetylcholinesterases are evolutionarily closer to insects. My father was a cropduster pilot and I worked for cropdusters, both my father and another man. Believe me, genetically engineered cotton and other pest-resistant GM crops are safer if one doesn't have to spray them with organophosphates. Most natural foods are not natural any more. They've been bred for 100-2,000 years by Mankind to produce more seed, more fruit, etc. They could not exist in the wild as they are because they spend too much energy making seed or fruit. Genetic modification is a misnomer in a sense. Breeding crops for new traits is a crude form of genetic modification. Genetic engineering is just a more exact or finer version of this ongoing breeding process. People object when an insect toxin gene is inserted into crops, yet they don't know that many plants make their own insecticides and that plants are capable of lateral gene transfer. Eating an unripened potato will kill you due to ingestion of the insect toxins in the green skin. Eating tomato leaves will make you ill since tomatoes are members of the nightshade family of plants. Most chemical insecticides need to go away for the most part. They are crude chemical compounds of the past that poison the environment. We can do better.


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