Thursday, August 25, 2016

Protesting Mosquito Control

The latest magic bullet in the ancient war between humans and mosquitoes is a genetically modified strain:
Oxitec scientists said they had reduced the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, by 90 percent or more in other areas where the company’s modified mosquitoes have been released, including Brazil. The male mosquitoes carry synthetic DNA as larvae. They are hatched and then released as adults to mate with females (who do all the biting) in the wild. The DNA infuses their offspring with too much protein, causing them to die.
Given the immense slaughter mosquito-borne diseases wreak on humanity, this seems like a good idea to many of us. But a plan to test these genetically-neutered mosquitoes in Key West is running into the same sort of unease with technology that drives vaccine avoidance and many other issues:
“People here can survive what nature throws at them,” said Gilda Niles, 64, who arrived in Key West from Cuba in 1967 and moved to Key Haven in 1980, when it was just a plot of earth with cheaper land, water on three sides and more space. “Hurricanes, bring them on; long-timers here seldom evacuate. Mosquitoes, well, that’s the price of paradise. Zika, this too shall pass, like dengue. But science and government, I’m not so sure about.”
We can survive anything but science and government – there's a sentiment to ponder. How did we get here, and what can we do about it?

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

"We can survive anything but science and government – there's a sentiment to ponder. How did we get here, and what can we do about it?"

We got here through a centuries old culture of anti-intellectualism combined with modern day corporate controlled media using scare tactics to turn profits.

Anyone who is afraid of this plan simply doesn't understand it. That very ignorance is the source of their fear - they don't know anything about how genetic modification works and don't know what possible effects it might realistically cause, but they know it isn't "natural" and they're told by scam artists and nutjobs that unnatural things are automatically and intrinsically bad, so that's all they need to reflexively reject the plan purely on the basis of uninformed emotionality.

Modifying the genes of these mosquitoes in this manner cannot possibly result in anything undesireable happening. The males themselves will live out natural lifespans and die, and anything that consumes them will be completely unaffected. The same applies to their offspring, who will die before they develop, and again, anything that consumes them will be completely unaffected.

Literally the only possible result is for an entire generation of mosquitoes to die before they mature, in a manner which cannot possibly impact other organisms in any way. The only way this could possibly cause problems is if it perhaps kills too many mosquitoes, creating a temporary imbalance in the food chain - but that's no big deal, as the ecosystem will very rapidly adapt and compensate for it.

People are morons. They're perfectly fine spraying untold amounts of toxic insectide around to kill mosquitoes, but they're terrified of using genetic modification to kill them instead. They cling to fear and reject knowledge, value emotions over facts, and refuse to make any effort to listen or to learn when presented with something they don't immediately understand.