By Harry Pyle
Why we need insects – even the pesky ones
This article discusses the importance of insects to the world’s ecosystem. If insects were to disappear, many plants and vegetation would lose their defensive properties originally intended to fight off insects. This would result in plants that wouldn’t be able to defend themselves and if a famine was to arise, even a small one, the effects would be devastating. It was proven that these effects could settle in in the short period of three or four generations, which shows how dependent plants are on insects. This article also talks about how with the loss of capable defensive plants, many preferable traits would be lost as well such as good taste and medicinal properties. The article closes on a note suggesting that future farmers are trying to breed more defensively-adept plants and decrease the use of pesticides. This is becoming more and more necessary as plant’s genes are being tampered with. “’One of the things farmers are trying to do is breed agricultural crops to be more resistant to pests,’ said Agrawal. ‘Our study indicates that various genetic tradeoffs may make it difficult or impossible to maintain certain desired traits in plants that are bred for pest resistance.’”
This is a very insightful article as it describes an important part of future human life. If insects ceased to exist, there would be a big change in the ecosystem of the world and it would take effect very quickly. It would affect pharmaceutical and herbal medication industries because their plants would become weak and stop producing some of their medicinal properties. On top of that, every plant would become much more prone to famines as they would stop producing defenses. If insects did not exist, these industries would eventually be hit hard with problems. They are not the only industries that would be affected. The grocery store business would be in jeopardy as well. With their plants being on a success-failure existence with little reliability, they would lose much revenue provided from that business which would result in many people losing jobs. This wouldn’t happen gradually over time; it is a very quick process. “’This experimental demonstration of how rapid evolution can shape ecological interactions supports the idea that we need to understand feedbacks between evolutionary and ecological processes in order to be able to predict how communities and ecosystems will respond to change,’ said Alan Tessier, a program director in NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences.” While insects seem like a very small part of our lives and are generally viewed as an annoyance, without them the ecosystem of the world would be disrupted and would send many aspects of society into turmoil.
My thoughts towards this article were generally positive. Alan Tessier and Anurag Agrawal backed up their points with reliable experimental evidence. Each point they made was relevant to the subject at hand and had important real-world application. The article offered interesting insights about something I had never even thought of before and gave me a reason not to wish insects didn’t exist. However, this article did not discuss the effects that insects already have on the environment (the reason pesticides were invented in the first place) and how decreasing the use of pesticides will initially affect the yields of crops. However, the overall essence of the article was well-written and it is definitely worth reading.
Citation:NSF Staff. "Why We Need Insects - Even 'pesky' Ones." Why We Need Insects -- Even 'pesky' Ones. NationalScienceFoundation.gov, 5 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125636>.