Re­searcher has fruit flies in sights

Central and North Burnett Times - - WELCOME -

A QUEENS­LAND sci­en­tist is look­ing at ways farm­ers and pas­toral­ists can bet­ter de­fend their crops from an out­break of a dev­as­tat­ing pest that causes mil­lions worth of dam­age to the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try each year.

Dr Mark Schutze, who has been awarded a Smith­so­nian Fel­low­ship, will travel to the United States to work with ex­perts at the Smith­so­nian Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in Wash­ing­ton to learn more about fruit flies.

Fruit flies are preva­lent across fruit grow­ing re­gions in Queens­land and north­ern New South Wales.

Queens­land Sci­ence Min­is­ter Ian Walker, who an­nounced the fel­low­ship to mark the start of Na­tional Sci­ence Week, said fruit flies posed a sig­nif­i­cant risk to the state’s multi-mil­lion fruit in­dus­try.

He said Dr Schutze was one of five sci­en­tists to be awarded a fel­low­ship this year.

“What Dr Schutze learns and the knowl­edge he brings back will be im­por­tant if we have to face this threat again to pro­tect our fruit in­dus­try,” he said.

“Fruit flies are a ma­jor pest of sub­trop­i­cal and trop­i­cal hor­ti­cul­ture in the Amer­i­cas and it is vi­tal we have the knowl­edge to know what we are deal­ing with and how to con­trol them.

“Fruit flies dev­as­tated Queens­land’s trop­i­cal fruit in­dus­try in 1995, which af­fected more than 700 grow­ers, cost $33.5 mil­lion and took nearly four years to erad­i­cate.”

Fed­eral In­dus­try Min­is­ter Ian Mac­far­lane said Na­tional Sci­ence Week gives Aus­tralians the op­por­tu­nity to learn more about the many ways sci­ence im­proves our health, ben­e­fits our com­mu­ni­ties and ig­nites new ways of think­ing.

Queens­land is the only gov­ern­ment in the world that has a for­mal agree­ment with the Smith­so­nian.

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