Did the US try to send Drosophila insects into China to destroy their crops?!
Take a look at viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : US Sent Drosophila Insects To Destroy Crops In China!
People are sharing a video of a Chinese news report about Chinese custom official discovering 66 containers of some 7,000 insects in a parcel shipped from the US.
They allege that this is evidence of American sabotage – that the US sent those insects to destroy crops in China. The video is often shared with such messages :
Did the US try to send 7,000 fruit flies into China to destroy their crops?! 😲🤔
Here is my fact check : https://t.co/plL00Op2DC#TechARP #China #UnitedStates #Wumao #Propaganda #Controversy #Agriculture #Crops #Food #Safety #Danger #Facts #FactsMatter #FactCheck #FakeNews pic.twitter.com/ue90TcI1mw
— Dr. Adrian Wong (@DrAdrianWong) April 20, 2023
In addition to claiming that these insects are dangerous to crops, some pro-CCP or Chinese-sponsored websites are promoting the claim that these insects had their genes edited to become “more infectious”, like a “super mosquito”.
They also point out that each of these insects can reproduce every 10 days, laying 400 eggs in their lifetime to quickly produce a swarm that will destroy fruits in China, by corrupting them with bacteria and fungi.
Truth : US Did Not Send Drosophila Insects To Destroy Crops In China!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS created by the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛), and shared by pro-CCP netizens and websites, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : The Incident Happened In July 2022
First, let us establish what we know about this case.
Sometime in early July 2022, Qingdao customs officers examined a package sent from the United States. Its declaration form claimed that the parcel contained clothes.
When they opened it up, they found two pieces of clothes inside, with 66 sealed tubes containing eggs, larvae, pupae and adult insects.
After analysing them, Qingdao custom officers estimated that the 66 tubes contained roughly 7,000 fruit flies, specifically of the species Drosophila melanogaster.
Fact #2 : Drosophila megalogaster Is Present Worldwide
Drosophila melanogaster is known as the common fruit fly, which is commonly present across the world. Yes, this fruit fly is already present in China.
Despite originating in Africa – it is now present on all continents across the world, including islands.
Fact #3 : Drosophila megalogaster Can Lay Up To 2,000 Eggs
The Chinese media promoting this story can’t even get their facts right, claiming that these fruit flies lay up to 400 eggs in their lifetime.
Drosophila melanogaster females are far more productive than that – they can lay up to 100 eggs a day, and up to 2,000 eggs in a lifetime.
Fact #4 : Drosophila megalogaster Do Not Cause Fruits To Rot
Drosophila melanogaster is not an economic pest, even though no one welcomes them in their home.
It is often confused with Tephritidae – a different family of insects that are also called fruit flies, some of which are economic pests that destroy fruits.
Unlike Tephritidae fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster do not destroy fruits. They are attracted to fruit that is already rotting, but do not cause fruits to rot.
The claims that the US sent Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies to destroy crops in China is nonsense.
Fact #5 : Drosophila megalogaster Is Commonly Used For Research
Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies are very popular in scientific research, for many reasons :
- they are easy and cheap to care for, requiring little equipment and space
- they have a rapid life cycle of 10 days, allowing several generations to be studied in a few weeks
- each female can produce many offspring, laying up to 2,000 eggs in its lifetime
- they have simple genetics, with only four pairs of chromosomes
- their genome was completely sequenced and published in the year 2000
Scientists do not mention this as a reason for using Drosophila melanogaster, but I think it is important to note that it is not a pest, so accidental release of these fruit flies would not pose any danger of any form or kind.
Fact #6 : Drosophila megalogaster Is Commonly Shipped Worldwide
Because it is a model organism for research, Drosophila melanogaster is bred and shipped internationally to researchers worldwide.
The College of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell University, for example, breeds and sells Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, which they ship internationally including China.
Fact #7 : 2021 Seized Shipment Was Meant For Chinese Research Institute
This wasn’t the first time China seized live Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies in such tubes.
In June 2021, Chinese custom officials found 58 tubes containing more than 1,000 of these fruit flies in an imported parcel addressed to a Chinese research institute.
They seized the parcel because its contents were not declared, and it lacked an import permit.
Fact #8 : China Requires Quarantine For Live Insects
China forbids live insects from being mailed or carried into the country, without special quarantine or approval.
However, quarantine is a problem for Drosophila melanogaster because it has such a short lifespan of just 50 days.
Hence, it is possible that Chinese researchers are trying to circumvent the quarantine by importing live Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, without an import permit which would require quarantine.
It is also possible that these fruit flies are being imported as a live food source for their pet fish, frogs and other animals.
Fact #9 : Cornell University Warned About Chinese Import Permit
Cornell University specifically warned Chinese researchers trying to purchase these fruit flies that :
That suggests that they lost shipments to China in the past, because they lacked import permits.
Fact #10 : This Is Chinese Propaganda
This is really nothing more than yet another example of Chinese propaganda created by the infamous Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛).
All of the wumao articles that I looked at so far have proven to be false… at every instance. So please watch out for such false claims.
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