Do we have an intrinsic, evolutionary disgust of cockroaches?

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Cockroaches have been smeared in the press for millennia. The ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead” contains an insecticidal spell, and Pliny the Elder, in his “Natural History,” recommended that the “disgusting” pests be summarily squashed. According to Valerie Curtis, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the author of a recent book about the science of revulsion, the human tendency to recoil from cockroaches may have evolutionary underpinnings. Those of our ancestors who tended, even in the absence of the germ theory of disease, to steer clear of the things that cockroaches love most — bodily waste, spoiled foods, and so on — may have done “better, on average, in the reproduction lottery,” she said.

But Brent Karner, a former curator of entomology at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, attributes humanity’s roach hatred not to an evolutionarily sensible disgust response but to a delusional and destructive detachment from nature. “In caves around the world, the ceiling is covered in bats and the floor is a moving mass of cockroaches and bat shit,” he said. “The roaches are cleaning that up so that the bats can continue to live there without pooping themselves out of house and home.” When our ancient ancestors first upgraded to cave living, the insects might have provided the same service, Karner suggested, and perhaps even been tolerated for it. Over time, however, as we settled into houses and domesticated a handful of favored animals, the cockroach became an unwelcome guest.

Read full, original post: In defense of the cockroach

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
cow global warming

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend