Scientists' Gene-Edited Mosquito Plan Backfires, Only Made Pests Stronger

Nobody particularly needed mosquitoes to be gene-edited. They were already annoying enough, thank you very much. We didn’t need to play God with them.
What, pray tell, were they going to do? Make them only bite ugly wild animals? (The cute ones would be too much to bear.) Would they take up the violin? Learn English and read the works of P.G. Wodehouse?
No, nothing like that. Instead, as always, it turns out as it does in the movies: The mosquitoes became even scarier than they were in the first place.
According to the U.K. Sun, these are “super mosquitoes that are even tougher” than the original species.
“Genetically modified mosquitoes that were designed by scientists to help populations decrease are actually thriving,” the paper reported Tuesday.
“This is according to new research that claims the plan to create gene-hacked mosquitoes that have offspring which die immediately has spectacularly backfired and now scientists don’t know what will happen next.”
To quote Billy Crystal on “Saturday Night Live,” “I hate when that happens!”
According to The Sun, here was the plan: Take the mosquitoes, release them in the ecotourism haven of Jacobina in Brazil and wait for them to mate with the local mosquito population.
That way, they thought the weaker genetics of the modified mosquitoes would mean that population numbers would dwindle. That’s no small feat considering the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito that was genetically edited is responsible for diseases like dengue, Zika and yellow fever, among others.
And, at first, it worked. The population plummeted for a spell and then went right back up again. Not only that, but the genetic material of the genetically-modified mosquitoes have been found in the general population, which means they’re successfully interbreeding with the rest of the mosquito population.
“It is unclear how this may affect disease transmission or affect other efforts to control these dangerous vectors,” researchers wrote in Nature Scientific Reports.
“It is the unanticipated outcome that is concerning,” researcher Jeffrey Powell said.
“Oxitec, the British biotech company running the project, assured members of the public that this negative result would not happen,” The Sun reported.
“It then released 450,000 genetically mutated mosquitoes into the wild where interbreeding caused the spread of the mutated genes because the offspring failed to die.”

Meanwhile, the new genetically modified mosquitoes were garnering a bit of attention since they seemed to be “super mosquitoes” — that is, inordinately difficult to kill, all thanks to genetic modification.
This is where Ian Malcolm would pound on the desk and remind us that we were too preoccupied with whether or not we could we didn’t stop to think if we should.
Oh well, at least they did it with a harmless insect. After all, the mosquito is only one of the most deadly animals on the planet. And this is the kind of mosquito that can transmit the dengue virus, a potentially deadly virus, which can lead to internal hemorrhaging and death.
“The study shows that there was a gene exchange, and that in this exchange the common mosquitoes incorporated genes from another variety, transgenic, resulting in hybrid insects, which usually have greater vigor, are more potent, about which there are no studies,” biologist José Maria Gusman Ferraz is quoted as saying in a computer-translated article from Rede Brasil Atual.
“Much less for its efficiency in virus transmission, which may even be higher. What we have now is a tougher ‘super mosquito’ that can grow in environments where others might not grow.”
“The possibility of this mosquito remaining in the environment, as well as of crossing with GM, was all warned, but despised by most members of the commission. So they went straight to the field and dumped the mosquitoes into the environment where people live,” he added.
This isn’t to say that genetic modification is evil. Far from it. However, you have to have something more than a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen before your creation is unleashed upon the world. Or else, something like this could happen.
Apparently, playing God didn’t work out so well this time. But what was it Dr. Malcolm told us? Ah, yes — life finds a way, and sometimes with a helping hand from scientists who may not have known exactly what the end result would be.
Scientists' Gene-Edited Mosquito Plan Backfires, Only Made Pests Stronger Scientists' Gene-Edited Mosquito Plan Backfires, Only Made Pests Stronger Reviewed by CUZZ BLUE on September 19, 2019 Rating: 5

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