Friday, October 31, 2008

I'll take my fruit flies french, please...

Palin recently (Oct 24 speech, Pittsburgh, PA) condemned federal earmarks and in particular federally-funded fruit fly research that is being conducted in France, suggesting it was frivolous. Lots of you out there are aware of this. The scientific community was quick to respond (Science Magazine, 28 Oct), pointing out that those little fruit flies are an invasive species in California, and they cause a huge economic problem for the olive industry. The result is that the flies are controlled by insecticides, so the economic problem becomes the environment's problem. Research is being conducted in France because this is the fly's natural range - only here can researchers learn about what makes it thrive, or not, and what its natural enemies are. This was an unfortunate choice of examples on Palin's part because this research is vital to California's agriculture industry and overall economy. And, it demonstrated how little she understands about which she speaks.

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