Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Trouble With Tephritidae

A True Fruit Fly - Tephritidae (via Myrmecos Blog)

Bjoern Brembs has written extensively about the latest anti-science commentary by VP candidate Sarah Palin, who said...
Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.
...in a series of blog posts, including this one:
Who needs to know about bears, planetariums or fruit flies anyway? To hell with science!

In the beginning, there was bear DNA. Then the projector for the quintessential planetarium experience. Last Friday it was research on fruit flies. Which research project a semi-educated Republican politician doesn't understand will be next?
Myrmecos Blog informs us that Drosophila is not a Fruit Fly:

Fruit flies are a family, Tephritidae, containing about 5,000 species of often strikingly colored insects. As the name implies, these flies are frugivores. Many, such as the mediterranean fruit fly, are agricultural pests.

Drosophila melanogaster, the insect that has been so important in genetic research, is not a true fruit fly. Drosophila is a member of the Drosophilidae, the vinegar or pomace flies. They are mostly fungivores, and their association with fruit is indirect: they eat the fungus that lives in rotting fruit...

I bring this up because the confusion between fruit flies and vinegar flies entered into U.S. presidential politics this week when Sarah Palin attacked Fruit Fly spending as wasteful...

. . .

Palin was referring to a project to fund studies of the olive fruit fly, a true tephritid and a major threat to California’s olive industry.
I guess California's olive industry has little or nothing to do with the public good...

via Bjoern Brembs

...because the public good is better served by astronomical deficits and defense spending.

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