Tuesday, February 16, 2016

United Nations To Genetically Modify Mosquitoes To "Stop Captain Buzz"

by JASmius

Sounds like the set-up for an X-Files episode, doesn't it?

Or maybe Sliders....

Which is a whimsical way of asking the obligatory rhetorical question, "What could possibly go wrong?":

It may be necessary to use controversial methods like genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the insects that are now spreading Zika across the Americas, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Okay, and how would THAT work?

The virus has been linked to a spike in babies born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly, in Brazil and French Polynesia. WHO has declared Zika a global emergency even though there is no definitive proof it is causing the birth defects.

So WHO is recommending drastic, potentially dangerous countermeasures based on what is really nothing more than an assumption.  Because, "We can't wait," I'm guessing.

Next week, WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan will travel to Brazil to discuss Zika and microcephaly with the country's health minister and other officials, spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said on Tuesday.

Is she any relation to Dr. Helen Cho, who constructed what became The Vision's android body in Avengers II: Age Of Ultron?

In a statement, WHO said its advisory group has recommended further field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes, following trials in the Cayman Islands to fight dengue, where sterile male mosquitoes were released to mate with wild females.

"Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries...to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defense," the agency said in a statement.

WHO said previous experiments in releasing sterile insects had been used by other U.N. agencies to control agricultural pests. The agency described the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread Zika — as well as other diseases including dengue and yellow fever — as an "aggressive" mosquito that uses "sneak attacks" to bite people, noting that the mosquito has shown "a remarkable ability to adapt."

All you entomologists out there, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, because I have a question: How would a sterile male mosquito mating with a wild female mosquito kill off the wild mosquito population that may or may not be spreading Captain Buzz?  If the vasectomized male is "shooting blanks" what is that to the wild female?  Is her mating a "one-off" kind of thing?  One and done?  That would logically be the only possibility.

Still seems risky, though.  Unless the wild mosquitoes are invading the South American eco-habitat and aren't supposed to be there.

I think WHO would be better off introducing a bunch of genetically-modified frogs instead....

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