Ready to GM mosquitoes?

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Release into environment genetically modified insects to extinguish mosquitoes that transmit serious diseases. This is the debate that is going on in the United States, where the population of Florida, Key West has said “no” to the release of GM mosquitoes.

Not only GM plants from the laboratory, genetic engineering has made ​​progress. The study of the genome came to the production of genetically modified insects for application in health care against dengue fever.

In the control populations of harmful insects vectors of disease like Aedes aegypti, Oxitec‘s scientists – a British biotechnology company – have created a transgenic line that kills the larvae in order to reduce the nonnative Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in south Florida and beyond. The process involves inserting a gene into lab-grown male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The added DNA makes it impossible for their offspring to survive.

Trials have already taken place with success in Brazil, Malaysia, Panama and the Cayman Islands showed a more than 90 percent drop in mosquito populations. Despite the positive results, more than 145,000 people had signed a petition at change.org expressing negatively. Even potential boosters say those responsible must do more to show that benefits outweigh the risks.

People think that is a bad idea because once released into the environment, there is no way to stop the experiment if there are any unintended consequences. There are too many unknown variables and ecological interactions to account for in this situation. The unintended consequences might not be realized until long after these scientists and the politicians involved are dead and buried, leaving those who come after us to clean up their mistake if that is possible.

 

Written by Sara Bidinost

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6 pensieri su “Ready to GM mosquitoes?

  1. This sounds appealing and terrifying at the same time: of course mosquito population causes many problems to humans (like diseases and – let’s face it – annoying buzzes in your ears at night), but where should we draw the line then? Is genetically modifying mosquitoes really different than killing wildlife because “we feel in danger”? At the same time, there are too many unknown consequences that could affect the environment. What would happen to those animals which feed on mosquitoes? Seems like another way to take advantage of our planet leaving a trail of destruction behind us.

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  2. Hi Sara, as a biologist I find very interesting the possibility of modify animal’s genes and solve a big problem for humans, the rescue of Dengue. On the other hand, I think that before to erase species and change the entire food chain, scientists should choose and experiment different solutions. Have you ever heard about “bat box”?
    Bats are the best natural ways to take the bite out of mosquito season. A bat can eat over 1.000 mosquitos per hour and building a bat house, better to say a bat box, is really very easy. There are a lot of web site that explain how to do it by yourself or where you can buy it.
    Of course than we should face the problem of having a lot of bats in our garden, they are insectivores so they aren’t interested in humans but maybe it’s not the perfect moment for pushing this theory.

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  3. Dear Camilla, I agree with the fact that bat box is a nice way to solve the problem, but only in countries like Italy, where mosquitoes are “just annoying” and not “a serious danger”. For example, in Africa, where mosquitoes are a real death risk because of malaria, bringing bats close to villages may become even more dangerous: we shouldn’t forget that the first Ebola patient of the 2014 outbreak had been bitten by a bat.
    P.S.: BTW, I have the bat box, but unfortunately never worked.

    (by Giulia)

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  4. The issue of “Bat box” focuses exactly the point that I consider critical: these aggressive mosquitoes have their place in the food chain and their usefulness. We do not know what might happen once they are eliminated, in places where they were carried out similar manipulations there were significant damage to biodiversity. The other issue concerns the responsibility of man (more or less unwittingly) carries nonnative species in places that do not constitute the habitat of origin, and then try to correct its errors exterminating the species itself. Maybe are we trying to correct a mistake with another mistake ?

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  5. The IGTRCN is a National Science Foundation-funded project directed by David O’Brochta and intended to connect insect scientists at all stages of their careers for the purpose of developing and disseminating insect genetic technologies and to promote and enhance insect functional genomics as the availability of genome sequence data becomes readily available.
    David O’Brochta is a professor in the University of Maryland, College Park’s Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research as well as the Department of Entomology. He is an expert in insect genetics, molecular genetics and insect vectors of disease, as well as transposable elements, genetic technologies and biotechnology.

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  6. The point is that we are not eliminating masquitos, but only invasive mosquitos. Aedes Egipty is a nonnative species of mosquito introduced by mankind and is very dangerous. We are only solving a problem that we originated. If we reduce this species of mosquito, native ones will retake in a very short time their original place in the environment. On the other hand introducing an OGM species in nature is very dangerous. Even if OGM mosquitos die in a few days some animals like bats will eat them and so they’ll enter in the food chain. Naturally long time effects of this are totally unknown

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