6,000 mutant mosquitoes let loose to combat Dengue fever – A response to a Huffington Post Article
I read this article with a mixed reaction:
Primarily, I was taken aback, half expecting to read that scientists had discovered a way to genetically alter mosquitoes that were not capable of harboring the dengue virus in their saliva. Perhaps instead of harboring it, the mosquitoes could destroy the encapsulated, 11,000 base pair RNA thereby destroying the virus, ceasing to be transmitters of it.
Instead it turns out that scientists were able to shorten the carrier mosquitoes’ life span, thereby reducing the amount of time these mosquitoes have to bite people and thousands of them, 6 thousand to be exact, were just released into the jungles of Malaysia. We human beings are so committed to our survival that we might eventually be shooting ourselves in the foot while we mutate creatures that play a part in this delicate earth-based ecosystem that we call home.
And here is my other reaction: Oh cool mutant mosquitoes!
We can kind of guess at the short-term outcome: mosquito populations drop.
But it is a lot harder to gauge the long-term outcome: Beetle and other small insect populations may increase. But will anything major happen, or will some species shift around slightly to fill in the gaps? Or will these mosquitoes develop an uncanny ability to mass-produce, or perhaps the mutation will lead to an ability to grow massive in size, producing foot ball sized mosquitoes capable of killing their victims in a single bite? Does anyone else get at least a little bit excited about potential science fiction fantasies coming true based on our Frankensteinian fancy?
Ahem — me neither.
I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.