Friday, 12 September 2014

Man-made evolution is happening, and it's time to control it

Planting pesticide-free cotton as a refuge for the pert pink bollworm caterpillar has slowed bollworms in neighboring cotton fields from developing resistance to pesticides because they breed with the pesticide-free population.

Evolutionary biologists have news for anyone accustomed to thinking of evolution as a long-term proposition: Evolution also takes place on a day-to-day basis, and it's a tool we must use to keep drug-resistant diseases from spiraling out of control and to prevent mass extinctions.

In a paper published Sept. 11, UCLA evolutionary biologist Thomas Smith and colleagues from seven other universities explain that pests and diseases are evolving too quickly, while people and endangered species are evolving too slowly. The article, which appears in the online version of the journal Science, calls for policy makers and industry leaders to use the principles of applied evolutionary biology to solve global challenges in agriculture, medicine, conservation and other fields.

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