Releasing genetically modified mosquitoes?

By Sungano Mharakurwa Moderator | 29 Nov, 2016

I thought to share this article (summary below and also: All eyes will surely be on this trial if the site is found.

Florida Officials Move Forward with GM Mosquitoes, Despite Bitter Foes
In a 3-2 vote on Saturday, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District approved a trial of genetically modified mosquitoes designed to curb the spread of infectious diseases, such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.
The vote was one of the last remaining hurdles for the bugs, which in August became the first GM animals to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use in an open field trial. However, local opposition to the long-planned trial remains fierce, and officials still have more work to do—including finding a new trial site.

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pascal verhoeven Replied at 7:37 AM, 29 Nov 2016

From archives
As prof Michael Short wrote today in a post the vector of dengue Zika etc has a short life cycle Therefore local community led non Chem non Gen methods as used long ago will rid you of spread

Sungano Mharakurwa Moderator Replied at 8:15 AM, 30 Nov 2016

Thanks Pascal. GMs could be a magic bullet or else a lesson. It will be interesting to see what happens should the field trial go ahead.

Manuel Lluberas Replied at 8:29 AM, 30 Nov 2016

This is an interesting, yet somewhat dangerous approach. Not because of any problems with gene manipulation or releasing animals into the wild with manipulated genes (that's another conversation), but because it may give the population -and some mosquito control program managers- a false sense of security. While we need to eliminate or reduce aegypti populations as much as possible, we need to implement programs as mosquito control programs and not "aegypti control programs." The success of a GM-mosquito control program will do little to nothing to address other vectors, especially Ae. albopictus, in the areas where they are found. Their success will give the impression that the war on the mosquito was won and the approach must be implemented elsewhere, but there are no similar alternatives for malaria or any of the other mosquito-borne disease control programs is currently available.

We need to tread very carefully in these waters. Let us not forget the work of Fred Soper, who led the elimination of dengue and aegypti from South America without the benefit of a vaccine, any of today's technology and materials, and long before GM mosquitoes were but science fiction stories. (PAHO declared victory over aegypti in all of South America late in the 1960s thanks to Fred Soper.) Some argue that Soper's work cannot be replicated in today's climate, but those who say that do not know the work of mineral extraction companies in Africa and vector control operations in other parts of the world that have eliminated malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, yet their results are not considered to have sufficient "scientific evidence." I believe the vector control programs implemented by companies that go from almost permanently closing their doors to improving their revenues to the point of hiring new, permanent staff members must be duplicated and widely implemented even if not "scientific enough." You just cannot argue with success.

Sungano Mharakurwa Moderator Replied at 4:14 AM, 1 Dec 2016

Many thanks Manuel for these thought-provoking perspectives and inspiring success example from the field. The angle you bring in is pivotal and yet a very easy one to overlook. Can it really be cost-effective to use genetic modification where multiple primary and secondary vectors frequently abound? It looks like the high tech method may be good as an additional armament but not necessarily replacement for the good old classical approaches.

Lovemore Gwanzura Replied at 4:25 AM, 1 Dec 2016

Hi all!
Releasing genetically modified mosquitoes have been successfully used join the fieldBut the only problem had been associated with some genetic mutations that occurred due to the food they used and that brought out secondary vectors which were resistance to the standard controlling/or killing methods. if this is well thought why not carry out another Pilot study> i gather Americans are doing this for the ZIKa virus. let us see the out come. I am sure it is going to work but what minister will also be an out come remains to be seen.

Maimunat Alex-Adeomi Moderator Replied at 11:20 AM, 1 Dec 2016

I would like to add my 2 cents to this very interesting and somewhat controversial approach to malaria elimination.

I echo a lot of Manuel's and Lovemore's thoughts on the risk of having the GM species possibly bring about a mutant strain that defies all currently known control measures.

I also agree on trying to replicate and scale up measures that have worked from PPP such as the Anglo-Gold Ashanti case study.

Lastly, I wonder if anyone is thinking of the possible effects that the GM species might have on humans and the environment/ecosystem at large when they get released.


Sungano Mharakurwa Moderator Replied at 10:05 AM, 5 Dec 2016

Thank you Maimunat for pointing out these potential risks. After past and current experiences with NUMEROUS invasive species, usually introduced accidentally or with good intentions (see attached and also, widespread concern is understandable. In the current case though, only male mosquitoes with genes lethal to offspring are to be released. The approach of releasing male insects that are either sterile or carrying lethal genes seems to have been conceived quite sometime ago as well (
Thanks all for informative discussion.

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