Genetically modified mosquitoes

27 January 2008

There is a constant race between disease infections and combating these often cripling and/or lethal attacks to the immune system. Scientists have now reportedly engineered mosquitoes which can breed with the wild types to produce offsprings that will die before they can reproduce.

If you read the article, the idea behind it is a solid one, and should this be successful, it means eradication of dengue fever as well as malaria over time.

However, I do have my concerns.

Firstly, an environmental concern. I must admit, I don’t know much about their role “in society” in general, but I couldn’t help but wonder, how big is a part that they play in ecological balance? What will be the consequences, if any, if their numbers reduce drastically?

Secondly, the genetics behind this idea. Currently, the modified mosquitoes are marked for death shortly following reproduction. The offsprings will too carry the mutation and “in the wild” without an anecdote – tetracycline – will die before they reach sexual maturation. What will happen then when any of these mosquitoes come in contact with tetracycline that’s present say, in soil, in containers etc? Or even more scarily, evolution takes over and further mutations occur, rendering them stronger than ever?

I can’t help but be scared of any plan to release a bunch of these insects into the wild… Afterall, these are tiny flying insects that we have problem controlling right now as it is. To potentially trying to curb any unforeseen subsequences would be near to a task that I suspect many would find daunting to say the least. And should that happen, who is to be held responsible?

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5 Responses to “Genetically modified mosquitoes”

  1. med said

    wow…and i agree with the 2 concerns u raised

    the approach does tackle the root cause but we can also say that another way is for humans to keep the environment clean and minimize places where mosquitoes can breed…

    hmm..this method is like taking the ‘easy’ way out but its like playing ‘God’ in a way

  2. hank said

    I just saw “I Am Legend” and perhaps what was portrayed in the movie would happen in real life.
    As much as I hate mosquitoes, I think the best approach is to invent a repellent rather than playing with fire.

  3. alexalynn said

    med, indeed… scary though, if you consider in particular they’re trying to run the trial in malaysia!

    hank, i prefer other ways to control the mosquito population too, trust me…

  4. med said

    bloody hell?!?!!?!$#%$%@$%!%

  5. alexalynn said

    yup! i wonder who the company bribed to get the go-ahead…

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