Today’s canary-in-the-mine warning is the news that drug-resistant forms of malaria-causing parasites are spreading across southeast Asia leading to “alarmingly high” treatment failure rates as the insects have developed an immunity to the frontline chemicals usually used to control them.
It may be tempting to dismiss news that in parts of Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, up to 80% of the dominant malaria parasites have become resistant to the two most common anti-malarial drugs.
However, in a world where climate change and ever-warming weather extends insects’ ranges dramatically, that may not be possible or wise.
This is especially so as researchers warn that “this highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic properties”.
The reports provoke an obvious question: If this strain of insect can evolve to over-ride our chemical defences why can’t the bees and the other insects we depend on to pollinate the crops on which we rely not evolve and become immune to the agri-chemicals decimating their populations?