[ RadSafe ] Medfly Crisis due to Radiation UNDEREXPOSURE -was: RE: Using Radiation to Sterilize Insect Pests

Stewart Farber SAFarber at optonline.net
Thu Dec 1 12:55:29 CST 2011

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I made a post to Radsafe in 1998 about a rare, but interesting, failure in
one important case of a 1981 Medfly irradication program in California,
which occurred during the first term of then Governor Jerry Brown. The
Mexican lab producing the many hundreds of millions of supposedly sterile
Medflys for release to the environment had poor Quality Control and exposed
the  Medflies it was producing to TOO LITTLE RADIATION. Sort of ironic. Too
little radiation exposure caused a major environmental impact.

Accordingly, with the California Medfly program in 1981, mentioned in the
link below, huge numbers of fertile males and females [they of course are
not separated when sterilized]  were being released to the Medfly infested
areas,  which caused the pest population, not to decline but increase
greatly. See:


The "sterile male" method of insect control using radiation sterilized
insects of one sort or another has proven to be of huge benefit to
agriculture production and domestic animal rearing. This technique of insect
control is but another example of the benefits of nuclear technologies to
modern societies.


For example, from the US Department of Agriculture [USDA] site at the above:

"The Screwworm Eradication Program Records, housed in Rare and Special
Collections of the National Agricultural Library (NAL), documents one of the
greatest success stories in the history of American agriculture. Led by the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the eradication of the
screwworm from the United States, Mexico, and most of Central America marked
a major victory over the destruction of domestic and wild animals by an
insect which feeds only on the living tissue of warm-blooded animals."

The "sterile male" technique of insect control was first applied against the
screwworm, laid by a certain type of fly. The worm infests the flesh of any
warm blooded animal, domestic or wild, and had caused much injury to  humans
as well if the fly laid an egg in any open wound. The screwworm had major
impacts --about $100 million USD in cattle losses in the late 1950s in the
Southern and S.Eastern US. It was completely irradicated in the US and all
of N. America by 1966 due to the "sterile male" insect control technique
involving radiation sterilization.
or if the above link is problematic:


Much research has also been done on using "radiomimetic" chemicals to
sterilize insects with chemical baited feeding stations so insects can be
sterilized in situ, rather than being irradiated in an industrial facility
and then released to the environment. As an undergrad organic chem major [in
a prior lifetime], I carried out an Independent Studies research project in
1965 using a potent radiomimetic aziridynl organic alkylating chemical
[apholate] which proved highly effective. This potent chemical mutagen [as
with a great many chemicals in the diet and environment]  damaged the DNA of
the fruit flies and worked very well in controlling insect populations.

Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
SAFarber at optonline.net

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of ROY HERREN
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2011 2:18 AM
To: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Using Radiation to Sterilize Insect Pests


Lanham, MD; November 30, 2011 -- A new study published in the Journal of 
Economic Entomology shows that radiation can be used to effectively
the light brown apple moth (LBAM), an insect pest found in Australia, New 
Zealand, California, Hawaii, Sweden, and the British Isles. The light brown 
apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker), feeds on apples, pears,
citrus, grapes, berries and many other plants. A native of Australia, it has

been found in California since 2007. The California Department of Food and 
Agriculture has spent more than $70 million in CDFA and USDA funds to
the LBAM, and estimates that failure to eradicate it could cost California 
growers over $133 million per year.
The article, "Radiation Biology and Inherited Sterility of Light Brown Apple

Moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae): Developing a Sterile Insect Release
Program" is 
available now in PDF format at http://bit.ly/vuH0sT.
Using similar methodologies in two different laboratories, the authors 
coordinated radiation biology studies between two geographically isolated
populations from Australia and New Zealand. The results showed that for both

populations, an irradiation dose of 250 Gy administered to LBMA pupae
>95% sterility in females and >90% sterility in males. These results can be
to initiate a suppression program against the LBMA where sterile males are 
released, mate with wild females, and no offspring are produced. If
this technique can largely eliminate the need for pesticides.
"These results suggest that a sterile insect technique (SIT) or F1 sterility

program can be applied to control an infestation of Epiphyas

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