2nd August 2016
Guest writer for Wake Up World
As noted in a recent article by The Atlantic, history is rife with pest control experiments gone terribly wrong. Today the stakes are higher than ever, as scientists are increasingly turning to genetic engineering to affect environmental change.
Earlier this year, the Zika virus, which is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, was declared a worldwide public health threat., Besides calling for increased use of chemical sprays against mosquitoes, focus quickly turned to the idea of releasing genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes to control populations.
The male transgenic mosquitoes, which are released to mate with females in the wild, carry a “suicide” or “self-destruct gene” that gets transferred to the offspring, killing them before they reach breeding maturity. To achieve this, protein fragments from the herpes virus, E. coli bacteria, coral and cabbage looper moth were inserted into the insects. Biotech company Oxitec refers to their GE mosquitoes as a “non-chemical insecticide,” and these controversial creatures are now another step closer to being released on U.S. soil.