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Are mutant mosquitoes a good idea?

According to an article from Collective Evolution millions of genetically modified mosquitoes are set to be released. Here’s a news report from a channel in Fort Meyers, Florida.

I don’t pretend to be a scientific expert in this area and I do believe in progress through science, but a few questions come to mind:

  • The report says that the mosquitoes will be manually sexed so that no females are released. (Apparently this is done by looking at the antennae.) How would you like to have that job?
  • If any of the females are missed and someone is bitten could that have any unforeseen affects? I’m guessing that part of the testing was for Oxitec to be bitten by a few of them.

If this happens it will be a grand experiment. Either it will all work exactly as predicted and these mutants will create a lot of benefit for the population by reducing pests and the disease that they carry. If not—well, there are plenty of comic books that suggest the possibilities. In either case we will know.

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