Sunday, November 14, 2010

Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Released Into The Wild

The alteration, made specifically to males, makes the mosquitoes sterile. In what seems like a success, the experimental release likely causes an 80% drop in the area.

"From May to October of this year, Oxitec released male mosquitoes three times a week in a 40-acre area. The mosquitoes had been genetically modified to be sterile, so that when they mated with the indigenous female mosquitoes there would be no offspring, and the population would shrink.

Mosquito numbers in the region had dropped 80 percent by August, which the researchers expect would result in fewer dengue cases.

Since it’s only females who bite humans and transmit diseases like the untreatable dengue fever this study examined, British biologists suspected that introducing males sterilized by a genetic mutation into the gene pool could dramatically decrease their numbers over time.

While many scientists and environmentalists object to killing off mosquitoes entirely for fear it would harm dependent species, Oxitec asserts that, since the sterilizing gene could not be passed on to subsequent generations, this method will have no permanent ecological impact.

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