Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes as Pest Control
A recent article published in the New York Time highlighted an interesting genetic development. Scientists at Oxitec have developed genes in mosquitoes that kill their offspring before they reach the adult stage and thus before they can bite humans. They achieved this by creating a gene that kills the mosquito unless it has a supply of tetracycline. In labs they are bred and large populations are grown. Once mature; the males are released into the wild where the antibiotic is not available. The result in theory is that the bugs will bred before they die and pass this terminal gene onto their offspring.
There are still many worries about this pest treatment. Main problems include the releasing of only males. As the mosquito species used carries dengue fever there is worried that females accidentally released into the wild will cause a rise in this disease. Another worry is that the mosquitoes will develop a resistance to the gene in the wild and reverse its effects. I feel that while still in testing, this idea has serious potential for controlling a problem that plagues many parts of the world. It also has potential to be much more environmentally sound then conventional pesticides.