Modified Mosquitos - Yea or Nay?

So Florida is planning on releasing 750m mosquitos in the wild to stop the Egyptian female variety from reaching maturity. The goal is to reduce bites and the spread of diseases like dengue and zika.

Critics call it an unnecessary Jurassic Park experiment that could result in badness. But the company claims a good track record with supposed successes in Brazil, Panama and Antarctica.

Anyone have an opinion on this issue? 250k Floridans are against the GMO mosquito.

I saw an article about this and was afraid it was going to be about gene drive. That scares me. This doesn’t and the technology has the promise of eventually eliminating insect borne diseases that kill millions annually. I hope the experiment goes forward and is successful.

These are the GM Oxitec mosquitoes. The same ones were used to great success in my former neighborhood in Cayman. Overall it worked and was self limiting. It helped stamp out a spreading incidence of Chikungunya there.

I think they should do it.

What’s the existing population of mosquitoes in the area where they’ll be released? 750 million doesn’t sound like very much, to me.

Maybe calling it a sting operation was a mistake.


Paging mozchron.

I believe this poster has knowledge about this topic and can share thoughts on how risky this really may be.

I think you can @ people here and they get a notice – @mozchron

I’m for this, if it can be done safely.

What kind of question is that? I would drive person-biting mosquitoes to extinction if I could. They’re horrible, blood sucking creatures that spread disease, give you itchy bites, and that have generally been a plague on mankind for millennia.

Releasing the modified mosquitoes is basically a ploy to drive down populations by introducing a sort that doesn’t effectively produce offspring, but that are otherwise perfectly viable for mating purposes. In general, the opposition to it is the same knee-jerk fear of science that you see with GMO food- “we don’t KNOW! Science is scary!”, because they don’t know about the genetic modification aspects. We know that the sterile insect technique is sound though.

There’s a mosquito problem in Antarctica?!

Just seeing who was reading closely.

There are probably unpredictable problems with this sort of thing, along with more predictable concerns like the populations of things that eat mosquitos.

Not anymore.

Here is what I wrote on this topic 5 years ago. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a good idea.

I’m deeply satisfied by the similarity in thread titles then and now.

According to what I read, if I am not mistaken, this technique adds a bit to the standard sterile insect technique. In this case, the female, human-biting, offspring do not survive, but the males do and carry the trait into the next generation.

Normally I believe in protecting biodiversity, but as far as I’m concerned, all mosquitoes need to die. Kill them all and let God sort it out. 750 million GMO mosquitoes making their brethren infertile is just a good start.

Yes. Actually, the female-specific lethal strategy was the original idea when this was first developed in the lab 20 years ago. But they decided that for the first releases it would be better if everything was sterile.

In addition to being more effective, female-specific lethality also makes it much cheaper to implement, as you can sex them by withholding the suppression drug (tetracycline) instead of mechanically separating.

There are two different things in question. Is this about releasing sterile mosquitoes? In that case I say no big deal. Or is it a gene drive? That is a different story. But even so it will not wipe out all mosquitoes, only one species. Much as I hate mosquitoes, I am not convinced we want to wipe them all out. But all anopheles mosquitoes? I just don’t see any downside. I cannot imagine any monovore species whose only prey is anopheles mosquitoes and the latter are responsible for more human deaths than any other species (more precisely genus) around. So yes, I approve.

For the people who say, oh, oh, GMO, we can’t allow that, I say may you qualify for a Darwin award.

I remember seeing this on TV as a kid in the sixties. I thought “sterilizing flies” meant ridding them of germs, like a sterile hospital room. Nobody would explain it to me.

We kept 'em stupid about reproduction in those days, just like God intended.