Engineered Mosquitoes

In developing world, dengue fever affects millions of people, killing millions every year. Dengue is a disease that is carried on and passed by infected mosquitoes. The fight against dengue and its carrier is a long drawn out battle. Even an open coke bottle or spare tire with accumulated water can be the breeding ground for mosquitoes, and destroying these "standing-water larval hatching grounds" can be tantamount to quite impossible for many a nations where funding for such extensive undertaking is acutely limited.

Now comes Oxitec, a company based in England, claims that "it can decimate mosquito populations by breeding genetically modified male mosquitoes, then releasing them to mate with wild females. Their offspring contain lethal genes that kill them young, before they can reproduce."

Oxitec's experiments with "programmed" mosquitoes have generated considerable uproars in various segments of world societies, including large grant for more research being offered by Bill Gate's Foundations, along with other similar organizations' pointed interests. However, engineered mosquitoes, like engineered crops, or cloned "meats", have also drawn criticisms. One such criticism observes the following:

"Releasing millions of genetically modified terminator mosquitoes into wild ecosystems amounts to a reckless and uncontrolled experiment with a risky technology," said Jim Thomas, of the ETC Group, a technology watchdog. "Oxitec's (project) abandons all pretense of containment or possible recall. I wonder what sort of liability they are willing to assume if something goes wrong?"

Thomas also questioned Oxitec's core technology -- a regulatory switch that uses tetracycline.

"The assumption is that the insects will not encounter tetracycline in the wild and yet tetracycline, naturally derived from a soil bacteria, is widely used in agriculture," Thomas said.

"Genetically engineered insects for pest control are a literal disaster waiting to happen," said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, in an e-mail.

Read Wire'd magazine article from the following link:
Engineered Mosquitoes Could Wipe Out Dengue Fever