Monday, September 26, 2011

Not too small to escape the human gaze

Fireflies: already at risk and probably dropping off in number because of loss of habitat, pesticides and other man-made obstacles to their continuing to do what they always did.

Now comes another way humans have regarded fireflies as theirs to use for whatever serves people. A website for Boston’s Museum of Science includes news of a “Firefly Watch” program, and its monthly page sometimes includes Q&As about fireflies.

One person reported learning about a firefly harvesting program, involving the capture of great numbers of fireflies, and asked if this really happens.

The response, from a Museum of Science rep, regretfully confirmed it. “Tens of thousands of fireflies have been collected and sold for their luciferase, one of the chemicals responsible for their light production,” he wrote. “This chemical is used to detect contamination in food.

“At one time, the only way to collect luciferase was to harvest it from the abdomen of fireflies. For the past 20 years however, a less expensive, synthetic form of luciferase has been available, making the need for sacrificing real fireflies obsolete.

“Even so, at least one company continues to sell firefly abdomens for their luciferase in addition to selling the synthetic form.”


This situation seems parallel to that of lab animals and vivisection. Although many more effective ways of testing without using lab animals have been devised, some "scientists" insist on continuing to test on animals. So many humans regard so many animals as existing only to serve them and utterly disposable.

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