Over the protests of environmental groups and NGOs, Malaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild, hoping to drive down incidents of mosquito-borne dengue fever. It's the first experiment of its kind in Asia, but naturally everyone isn't thrilled with the idea of releasing altered DNA into the ecosystem.
Dengue fever is a particularly nasty bug found in tropical and subtropical climes like Malaysia's, causing nausea, muscle and joint pain, fever, headaches, rashes, and sometimes death if left untreated (in Malaysia it killed 134 people last year). The experimental mosquitoes, all male, were engineered to produce offspring that quickly die in hopes that shortening life spans will thin the population of Aedes species (dengue fever is carried by females).
The experiment was conducted less to see if the GM mosquitoes' offspring would die off earlier and more to see how the 6,000 mosquitoes themselves would fare in the wild. That also happens to be the sticking point for environmental groups and locals who are incensed that the Malaysian government went ahead with the experiment over their protests. Tweaking genomes, critics say, could lead to unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences.
So how did the genetically modified Aedes males fare? We don't know yet, as the results are still being analyzed. If it turns out they were able to mingle with their unmodified cousins without generating any adverse consequences it would be huge for advocates of this kind of gene tinkering. Mosquitoes bear all kinds of illness all over the world—most notoriously malaria—and making adjustments to mosquito genomes has long been proposed as a potential solution.
Cool concept.. but really? This has to be the least efficient method of thinning an insect population ever, especially considering the potential (read: hypothetical) risks involved...
lets go back to using DDT and only DDT...better living though chemistry rather than genetics.
they tried this in some carribean island i think and it reduced the population by 80% farily efective i would say....
they build tolerances but I do agree with the "better world through chemistry" all we hold dear is beacuse of it.
Fear should not be an obsticle to progression just the motivating drive to exercise caution. If the good guys don't learn how to work with this stuff... what's gonna happen when the bad guys unleash it? What tools will they have to deal with the crisis?
Ignorance only provides temporary bliss...
What would be better is if they could modify the male to only be able to pass on the ability to reproduce male offsring. After a few generation there would be no females to pass on the virus and the genome would pass onto extinction.
If anyone is old enough to remember a really bad sci-fi flick from 1976 called "Food of The Gods", they'd be worried.
SPOILER ALERT (And, most will not care):
A giant mosquito sucks *ALL* the blood out of some poor schmuck.
A classically bad movie!
Well I live in Alaska... Our mosquitos are HUGE but luckily carry little to no desieses.... I could be wrong. The cold up here keeps them in check pretty well but man, do not go camping with out DDT or a friend there to snake the baby eagles off your back
Malaria has already been successfully eradicated following a test on Moheli Island off the east coast of Africa, where the disease was endemic, by a Chinese team who used nothing but artemisinin combined with another drug as a mass treatment to 40,000 people.
whatever happened to letting the life cycle run as it is supposed to?!!!! why on earth do scientists and everyone have the need to control every aspect that we come in contact with! the mosquitoes were created, put here as they are for a reason. it has never been a humans place to fuck with another species. humans are wrong! when will the masses see this.
Why don't you go out there and contract dengue fever along with a good dose of malaria and then come back and bitch about how we're messing with nature. We've been doing "genetic engineering" for thousands of years through a thing called selective breeding.
What is going to happen to the world's population when scientists cure all diseases? One story claims that mosquitoes are the number one carrier of malaria, which kills something like 900,000 people per year. So, add nearly a million people per year to the Earth's population because scientists have engineered a mosquito that does not or can not carry malaria. Most, if not all, of these million would live in third world countries. What kinds of charities are going to be started because these people have nowhere to live. We are already paying for relief organizations, of one kind or another, on practically every continent of the world.
I do not mean to sound cold-hearted or insensitive but this is real life. I truly believe in the 'survival of the fittest' of course that does not mean that healthy people are immune to diseases. I love science and get excited about possibilities and what-if's but releasing engineered insects to minimize diseases impacts more than just the medical and scientific worlds. Messing around with Mother Nature usually comes back to bite us in the butt.