Memo To Sarah Palin: Fruit Fly Research Has Led To Advances In Understanding Autism (Video)

Fruit flies are used in scientific research, including the study of autism

Fruit flies are used in scientific research, including the study of autism at the University of North Carolina.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whose youngest son Trig, has Down Syndrome, is said to be a great champion for special needs children and their families.  Today Gov. Palin gave her first address on Congressional policy should she and John McCain be elected November 4th.  During her presentation she mocked the scientific study of fruit flies in Paris, France.  However, fruit flies are used by researchers to study the origins of autism, one of the special needs afflicting some of the very children Gov. Palin was discussing in her speech.

This morning, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) gave her first policy speech urging the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), “a law ensuring services to children with disabilitiesthroughout the nation.” In the speech, Palin cited the need to do more for children with disabilities such as autism:

For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information. Early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference.

Palin claimed that the amount that Congress spends on earmarks “is more than the shortfall to fully fund IDEA.” She then ridiculed some of the projects – such as “fruit fly research” – saying they have little or no value:

Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.

Watch it:

Palin did not specify what fruit fly research earmark she was referring to (presumably a grant for olive fruit fly research), but she is apparently unaware that scientific research with fruit flies has led to valuable discoveries that have boosted autism research, as a study at the University of North Carolina demonstrated last year:

[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for..nerve cell connections to form and function correctly.

The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

The study of fruit flies has also been used for other autism research and “revolutionize[d]” the study of birth defects.


14 responses to “Memo To Sarah Palin: Fruit Fly Research Has Led To Advances In Understanding Autism (Video)

  1. Pingback: sarah palin fruit flies

  2. Pingback: Palin + Fruit Fly Research = No Clue « ichthyes

  3. Of course as a creationist she *cannot* possibly understand how fruit fly research is meaningful for biomedical research – if god has made the world, every thing is different, no way he would have re-used his precious ideas in different creatures ;-). Well, evolution is the reason that molecular controls and pathways are conserved, which is th only reason why Drosophila is a suitable model system for solving biomedical problems affecting vertebrates and humans alike. She is an entirely consistent lunatic. If such ignorance rules the White House America’s scientific leadership will be gone for good. Kiddies, let’s go back to praying for Santa Claus. Let’s go back into the caves (well , they wouldn’t be very conducive to the education of special needs children…). Abhorrent lack of judgement. I hope the American public will recognize that this babe is not of a mettle that should guide them into the future.

  4. Pingback: Lord of the Flies. According to Sarah Palin… | Cherrybombed

  5. great story. too bad the olive fly research has nothing to do with autism.

    it’s only dealing with pest control of the flies in Californian olive fields

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  7. The problem is that politicians rarely understand science and they don’t have to. It’s fashionable for a politico to say that he or she didn’t do to well in science and math so they can seem more folksy.

    But what gets lost here is that all life on Earth is made out of the same genetic stuff and what we can see in fruit flies, worms, albino mice and apes on a genetic level can apply to humans in the larger picture. Politicians can mock very serious research with impunity as most of their supporters don’t care all that much about science but the horse race of politics, so they won’t think about it for a moment and point out that the ridicule is misplaced and erroneous.

    If anything, these incidents scream about the need for better science education and more understanding about the essential basics of genetics and how they apply to all life on Earth.

  8. Hey, if you ant to check out the astrological aspects of Palin and Obama, go to

  9. Good stuff! God save America if she ends up being VP :-(

  10. Why would Palin let a little science get in the way of a good red herring?

  11. Some people are able to get people on their side, relate to them, through negativity. I believe Gov. Palin is one such person. I don’t see the point in mocking everything, criticizing everyone, in campaign speeches. But there are people who respond well to this tactic.

  12. Her ignorance is understandable , but sadly cannot be excused . Fruit fly research has taught us more about human development than any other model organism that scientists have ever used. There are thousands of labs worldwide that use fruit flies as model organisms for everything from studying how the human brain develops to why we sleep and how we smell to developing new models for things from neuro-degenerative diseases to malaria!. Research into fruit flies has even been awarded with a Nobel Prize in medicine ( see

  13. I agree with gfish – a basic understanding of the sciences is necessary, especially when talking about policy issues. It’s offensive when people claim that some research is “unnecessary” in the whole picture – every kind of science is intertwined with each other. Duh Sarah Palin.

  14. Pingback: Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin - Page 109 - BuckeyePlanet Ohio State Forums

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