More than half a century after DEET’s invention, scientists still don’t know how the popular mosquito repellent works.
Now, using a combination of artificially accelerated evolution and painstaking anatomical observation, researchers have answered a fundamental question about DEET’s mechanisms – and in the process showed that mosquitoes may become resistant to it.
That would be the end of American Players Theatre as we know it, though my uneducated guess is that sufficiently little of the mosquito blood supply applies any insect repellent that the evolutionary pressure to evolve DEET resistance isn’t very strong.
is more ominous:
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.
To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.
The Times stylebook can barely contain the eye-rolling at Big Business’s Official Expression of Guarded Optimism:
Monsanto, which once argued that resistance would not become a major problem, now cautions against exaggerating its impact. “It’s a serious issue, but it’s manageable,” said Rick Cole, who manages weed resistance issues in the United States for the company.
Of course, Monsanto stands to lose a lot of business if farmers use less Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds.
No kidding. Big Ag’s response is to double down:
Monsanto and other agricultural biotech companies are also developing genetically engineered crops resistant to other herbicides.
What could possibly go wrong?