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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listeners on Microbial Diversity

Air Date: Week of

In response to a recent story, listeners speak out for and against the lowly microbes.


CURWOOD: Our story on efforts to preserve endangered microbes brought this comment from Paul Ryan, a scientist at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania: "I agree very strongly that there should be some action to save the varied and unique environments that microorganisms inhabit," Mr. Ryan writes. "Biotechnology would be impossible without many of the organisms described in your broadcast. Many of the antibiotics and antifungal drugs we have today were discovered from such microorganisms. Thanks for tackling a difficult issue. Most bacteria and fungi are not very cute, so it may be difficult to get people excited about their futures." Indeed, this listener from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was less than excited about bringing endangered microbes into the public eye, given the divisive fights over such creatures as the spotted owls.

CALLER: The sizable portion of the public was amazed that the eco-groupies were willing to put people out of work to save an endangered species that you can see. Let's not give Rush Limbaugh any more ammunition. Just as the biosphere is intricate and complex, the solutions to the problems are more so, because the economic, political, and social concerns are interwoven into this. With Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, it's only a matter of time before James Watt is resurrected. As they say in Alaska, it's time to wake up and smell the low tide.


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