Zika

Zika Coming to America: Use GMO Mosquitoes to Fight It!

Blame any zika-caused microencephaly on Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and GMO Free USA

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AedesAegypti
Flickr (CC BY)

Zika virus is most likely coming to the U.S. this summer. Researchers are more certain than ever that the virus is responsible for infants with microencephaly born from mothers infected with it and also cases of the paralyzing Guillain-Barré syndrome in some infected adults. The disease is spread by moquitoes, especially by the non-native Aedes aegypti mosquito that also carries yellow fever, West Nile, dengue, and chikungunya viruses. According the the Centers for Disease Control, Aedes aegypti is especially prevalent in the southern United States. Although infections acquired from mosquitoes on the mainland of the U.S. have not yet been confirmed so far, 82 cases of zika virus have been reported in southern Florida as of this week.

There is not yet a vaccine against the virus, but we are not totally defenseless. The first line of defense will be normal efforts at mosquito control including the elmination of breeding sites and spraying pesticides to kill off the bloodsuckers. But an even more elegant and efficient technique is waiting in the wings, if only the objections of anti-biotech activists can be overcome—mosquitoes genetically modified with a gene lethal to their larva. The GMO mosquito has been created by the biotech company Oxitec (now a subsidiary of Intrexon) and has already been successfully used to drastically reduce the populations of mosquitoes at test sites in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, and Panama.

A terrific op-ed in the New York Times by molecular biologist Nina Federof and former Secretary of Agriculture John Block asks, "Why aren't we quickly gearing up production and beginning large-scale programs to release these mosquitoes?" Their sad answer:

It's because the Oxitec mosquitoes are genetically modified organisms and subject to different regulatory oversight in different countries. In Brazil, for example, release of Oxitec mosquitoes has been approved by one government agency but awaits approval from another agency.

Despite its substantial expertise in insect control, the Department of Agriculture has regrettably not taken a role in helping navigate the regulatory complexities for this mosquito. So these insects are being regulated as a "new animal drug" by the F.D.A. The agency is now accepting public comments on Oxitec's plan and will then evaluate each one before deciding whether to approve the Florida trial.

You get the picture. None of this happens fast.

Then there's public opinion. More than 160,000 people signed a petition opposing Oxitec's trial in the Florida Keys, but most signed before the Zika crisis. In a recent Purdue University survey, 78 percent of respondents supported the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to control the spread of the Zika virus.

The released male mosquitoes have no effect on people because males don't bite. While we might wait years for a Zika vaccine, the genetically modified mosquito is tested, scalable and ready to go.

Zika looks more devastating with every new study. Are the stakes finally high enough to expedite an effective, hemisphere-wide mosquito eradication program that makes use of modern genetic modification techniques?

Excellent question. Think how much further along we might have been in preventing the spread of this disease had Oxitec been permitted in 2012 to conduct its trial in the Florida Keys.

In March, the FDA actually ruled preliminarily that trials using the GMO mosquitoes are safe and could proceed. However, the agency yesterday bowed to pressure from the Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and GMO Free USA and delayed approval while extending the public comment period on the possible release of the mosquitoes to May 13.

My hope is that the public will reject scaremongering anti-biotech activism—one particularly kooky group actually suggested that the GMO mosquitoes in Brazil were responsible for microencephaly—and demand that FDA give its approval to use modern technology to combat this disease. After all, for how many babies born with microencephaly do FDA bureaucrats really want to be responsible?

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  1. Blame any zika-caused microencephaly on Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and GMO Free USA

    I have a bag of potato chips on my desk which prominently display a NON-GMO VERIFIED logo on the front.

    A lot of people believe in their heart of hearts that GMO is poisoning the planetoid.

    1. Notice how the potato chip company chose to label their chips as non-GMO. It’s almost as if people already have the choice to buy non-GMO foods without the government mandating labels.

  2. Did anybody stop to consider that God wanted that baby to get Zika? There’s a plan here people!

    1. I lost a glass of wine over that, Stop it dammit!

  3. It’s because the Oxitec mosquitoes are genetically modified organisms and subject to different regulatory oversight in different countries.

    Regulation of mosquitoes. Because TopMen.

  4. Are you single tonight? A lot of beautiful girls waiting for you to http://goo.gl/X6JhyG

    1. But please, if you’ve been to South America, wear a condom!

  5. Not taking the opportunity to pun-dub these GMOsquitoes.

    For shame!!

    1. EBS: (bows head in shame)

      1. Ron, you magnificent bastard, I bought your book! I haven’t read it yet. Don’t let me down.

    2. EBS – very nice!

      *sets off celebratory mosquito fogger*

  6. “Are the stakes finally high enough to expedite an effective, hemisphere-wide mosquito eradication program that makes use of modern genetic modification techniques?”

    No. Using modern science to advance humanity and save lives scare these groups more than anything. See the Greenpeace opposition to golden rice by the paragon of free market thought known as Slate.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/…..iency.html

    1. Cataclysmic moral, intellectual, and emotional retardation.

    2. From the comments:

      Clarksons, London, United Kingdom, about 8 hours ago
      He’s deluded. The exact problem with today’s libertarian Europe.

      1. My reaction after reading through an ocean of such shit:

        http://tinyurl.com/jcxsljq

  7. Bah, GMO mosquitoes. What we need is Giant Sea Bass with Laser Pointers attached to their heads

    1. Mutated sea bass?

  8. “The disease is spread by [mosquitoes], especially by the non-native Aedes aegypti mosquito that also carries yellow fever, West Nile, dengue, and chikungunya viruses.”

    The chances of the left blaming climate change have already surpassed 100%, I’m sure. I could write their script in my sleep:

    Don’t you libertarians care about children and mothers affected by climate change related birth defects?

    How can you be so selfish?

  9. A scientific breakthrough provides us with a demonstrably effective means to battle an awful disease, and these degenerates resort to voodoo-grade retardation in order to stall and prevent its use.

    Tree-hugging fuckbags.

  10. “how did the Zika virus suddenly learn how to disrupt the development of human embryos? The answer may lie in a sequence of ‘jumping DNA’ used to engineer the virus’s mosquito vector”

    Holy SHIT these people do not understand science!!

    Male mosquitoes released in Brazil with a gene that causes all their kids to be dead. Male mosquitoes somehow pass on genes to living daughters. DNA magically “jumps” from the GMOsquito to the zika virus, mutating it to allow it to disrupt human embryos!!

    Later in article:

    “Important update: Since this article was written, two things have become apparent that cast doubt on the hypothesis advanced in this article as regards the Zika virus.”

    No shit!!

    “First … there is no evidence that Zika has caused any cases of microcephaly in [Brasil].”

    Which of course didn’t stop the article from being written in the first place.

    “Second, bioinformatician David Murphy has examined recent genomes of the Zika virus and found no trace of the piggyBac transposon in its genetic material.”

    Because DNA doesn’t work that way.

    1. “However important questions raised in this article remain unanswered. In particular, it would be precautionary to know if any of the genetic material inserted into the Aedes aegypti mosquitos using the piggyBac transposon survives in wild populations in and around the area in which the Oxitec mosquitos were released in 2011 and 2012.”

      Does it MATTER?? The genetic material inserted causes the mosquito’s children to die in larval form, so it could not pass on its genes. But even if it did, who cares?? The Egyptian Mosquito is INVASIVE. If the genes somehow magically chained to effect all mosquitoes in Brasil, SURELY the destruction of an INVASIVE SPECIES would be GOOD.

      1. You forget that to some of these environmentalist retards, exterminating an entire species, regardless of its nature, is sin beyond measure.

        1. Unless it’s humans who become extinct. Then they think the planet will be saved.

      2. I don’t understand half of what you’re talking about, but all this talk about genetics and killing makes me uncomfortable–so obviously we need politicians to come in and stop you from doing whatever you’re talking about. People shouldn’t be allowed to do things I don’t understand.

        1. Ken, your last name’s got a ‘Z’ in it, and there’s also a ‘Z’ in the word ‘Nazi’. Therefore, I want your last name banned and forcibly altered. #pantsshittersanonymous

          1. You want to perpetrate genocide against the Brazilian mosquitoes.

            1. Apparently, people haven’t seen ‘The Fly’, a documentary about how insects have feelings, too.

            2. Yes, I do

  11. But without mosquitoes, what will pollinate us?

    1. *hands over COMMENT OF THE DAY trophy*

    2. Mosquitos don’t go near you because they can smell the weakness and know you’re an undesirable host. Kind of like that movie World War Z with Brad Pitt.

      1. Little known fact: That was filmed as a sequel, but Zombie Thelma and Zombie Louis ended up on the editor’s cutting room floor.

  12. Guillain-Barr? is some horrible shit. My father had it 10 years ago. Totally paralyzed from the neck down for 4 months. Because of muscle atrophy it took him almost a year to get even close to healthy again.

    It is also rare enough that no one was sure what was going on with him for about 2 weeks. Not a fun time.

  13. Oh, come on. She’s been here for a while. And yes, her immigration articles are often annoying. But marshalling genetic killer animals against her? That’s just rude.

  14. Zika virus is Nowadays becoming an increasing threat, that needs to be controlled as soon as possible. People with the Zika virus disease can have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain or headache. The public must take the preventive measures to stay away from virus, especially pregnant woman’s must take extra care to stay away from virus, since the mosquito bite can cause microencephaly in babies, due to which babies may have severe birth defects such as hearing loss, etc. The only way to get rid of all such pests is to contact Professional pest control team like termite, mosquitoes, bugs or Rodent Exterminator Sacramento CA , Florida or any other locality you live.

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