Bugs vs. Drugs, Organic Agriculture Hot Line and Disruptive Military Training Flights

This short series of reports includes news on bugs vs. drugs, organic agriculture hot line and disruptive military training flights.


| July/August 1988



112-020-01

Scientists have succeeded in producing a hybrid potato plant that manufactures its own insect repellent.


ILLUSTRATION: CLAUDIA TANTILLO

News briefs on bugs vs. drugs, organic agriculture hot line, forest arson, a hybrid potato plant repels insects and disruptive military training flights. 

Bugs vs. Drugs, Organic Agriculture Hot Line and Disruptive Military Training Flights

Bugs vs. Drugs 

Swarms of a usually rare, small white butterfly are gobbling up drug profits in Peru, where illegal coca growers are battling to save their crops from the insect. Known locally as malumbia, but otherwise classified by scientists as Eloria noyesi, the tiny butterfly eats nothing but coca leaves and this year has appeared in unprecedented numbers. Many growers have resorted to spraying their plants with DDT to eradicate the winged drug buster. Government officials, on the other hand, are considering raising large numbers of the butterfly and dropping them over remote growing areas.

Flash Fertility 

Although nitrogen accounts for about 78% of our atmosphere, it isn't available or useful to plants until it's "fixed," or combined with other elements to make it biologically "digestible." Until recently, scientists have believed that a handful of specialized organisms, among them bacteria on the roots of such plants as peas and alfalfa, were primarily responsible for producing fixed nitrogen. Now, however, a research team has found evidence that suggests lightning may yield as much as half the fixed nitrogen in air. Lightning discharges ionize the air, producing nitrogen oxide, which then reacts with ozone to produce NO 2 and molecular oxygen, usable to plants and animals. Though the process was known previously, it was thought to be responsible for no more than 3% of atmospheric fixed nitrogen.

Organic Agriculture Hot Line 





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