Am I the only one who thinks that releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help combat the Zika virus is a terrible idea?
Not quite. Local residents have launched a campaign to stop the release of these mutant bugs on the grounds that this kind of idiocy almost always has catastrophic unintended consequences. It seems a British company, (Oxitec), has programmed a strain of male Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes to only have offspring which will die before they reach breeding age. Seems to me that these British scientists don’t know much about these nasty little critters. One obvious snag is there are just so many of these insects and they have such a fast life cycle. What’s worse is that these GM bugs have not undergone proper testing ~ the Florida Keys release is by way of a very large-scale test.
Another snag is that disease carrying mosquitoes are not just in Florida. If you believe in global warming they are also going to be a problem in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and California. And, just do not even think of going anywhere south of the Mexican border.
The US Food and Drug Administration loves to approve GM organisms which haven’t been thoroughly tested, and without understanding what the long-term effects are going to be. Why is that? Money or hubris?
Female Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, (females are the dangerous, blood-sucking, ones), mate in a swarming cloud of males, and can lay a clutch of 100 or so eggs on a damp surface near stagnant water. The malarial mosquito was just about eliminated worldwide by DDT, (now banned), and completely eliminated in Panama during the building of the canal by eradicating the open, still water, on which the larvae depend. (Spraying water with oil works well…)
The disastrous results of previous animal releases still blight the world. Just ask the Australians what they think of bullfrogs and rabbits. Or the more enlightened New Zealanders what they think about cats. Come to that haven’t the Oxitec people ever seen Jurassic Park?
Three outcomes are likely from this release, none of them good;
- This GM mosquito technique will cost a fortune and won’t work at all.
- The genetically modified Aedes Aegypti will mutate into something else.
- This will work, the Aedes Aegypti will die out and something even nastier will take their place, (the Asian tiger mosquito, for example).
Man has a habit of doing things because they are possible, and not because they are such a good idea. Nature has a habit of finding a way to exploit man’s best intentions.
You don’t need to be Einstein to see that this is all going to end in tears.