National Geographic : 1969 Aug
them into crops, it can whip them off in an other direction at the last moment, or it can push them out to sea." Should the pattern seem especially menac ing, the center notifies the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the agen cy most concerned with protecting and im proving farm production in the world's de veloping countries. "Thanks to the alerts," an FAO official told me later, "a country is rarely invaded by locusts nowadays without being warned in advance." The FAO, from its Rome headquarters, acts as the strategic command for locust con trol, ready to send teams of specialists to whatever countries need them. It also helps sponsor the plague-warning service. From the alert room Dr. Haskell led me 210 down a corridor to the center's laboratory, where researchers have created a desert in miniature in the middle of London, with constant-temperature rooms, glass cages, sand, and heat lamps. "We breed close to 500,000 locusts a year here to study their life cycle, their behavior, and their characteristics," said Dr. Peggy Ellis, a senior scientist. London Researchers Develop Allergies Intent figures moved about us in white smocks, rubber gloves, surgical masks, and face respirators. They handle so many locusts that they become allergic to them. In the main breeding room Dr. Ellis showed me the dif ferent stages of a locust's life displayed in a series of cages. "Locusts normally live for four months,"