Chilling stuff with any number of possible unintended consequences (though the intended consequence is bad enough in itself). Here’s a soft-ball interview of the CEO of Oxitec which has been breeding the male mosquitoes that induce sterility in wild populations:
Talk about playing God!
This article talks about the possibility of wiping out the whole species of malaria-transmitting mosquito,* Anopheles gambiae*, in Africa, using a similar technique:
Researchers engineered Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes — which spreads malaria across sub-Saharan Africa — to pass on genes that cause infertility in female offspring. The study, published in Nature Biotechnology1, relies on a technology known as a gene drive, and appears two weeks after a US team reported using the same concept to engineer malaria resistance into a different mosquito species2.
But we don’t have to worry about ecological damage, as explained in a linked article:
Yet in many cases, scientists acknowledge that the ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as the niche was filled by other organisms. Life would continue as before — or even better. When it comes to the major disease vectors, “it’s difficult to see what the downside would be to removal, except for collateral damage”, says insect ecologist Steven Juliano, of Illinois State University in Normal. A world without mosquitoes would be “more secure for us”, says medical entomologist Carlos Brisola Marcondes from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. “The elimination of Anopheles would be very significant for mankind.”
Yes, what could possibly go wrong? (facepalm)
“Lots of organisms process detritus. Mosquitoes aren’t the only ones involved or the most important,” says Juliano. “If you pop one rivet out of an airplane’s wing, it’s unlikely that the plane will cease to fly.”
It’s all insane. What gives civilised humans, already the perpetrators of the sixth global mass extinction, the right to decide to exterminate entire species deliberately just because they find them inconvenient? In fact the spread of mosquitoes is directly linked to agriculture and the growth of cities, and the disease outbreaks are spread predominantly by urban populations, as shown by the albopictus subspecies that has been spreading into southern europe:
Land use changes, particularly urbanisation, may continue to increase the competitive advantage of Ae. albopictus over resident mosquitoes through its exploitation of artificial container habitats; further aiding establishment in new areas
In short, they want to have their cake and eat it. Farming and massively crowded cities without epidemic disease and troublesome parasites who take some of the biomass back out of human circulation (how dare they!!) Science is shown to be servile, the media also. Everything must enable the civilised culture’s goal of consuming the entire planet and converting it to a few domesticated monocultures. And they’re all so fucking gleeful about it. Makes me sick to my stomach.