Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released To Fight Deadly Disease


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Scientists in Brazil recently released genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment following a public health emergency declaration over the dengue fever pandemic.

More than a million cases of dengue fever have ravaged global populations in the first two months of 2024, a skyrocketing-number compared to previous years, according to Live Science. Roughly half of the world’s population lives in at-risk regions, and there is no specific treatment available for the disease, which is often fatal in those who develop symptoms.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some 42,000 or more cases have erupted since the start of 2024, leading to the declaration of a public health emergency, The Associated Press reported. Along with releasing a dengue fever vaccine, Brazilian authorities have allowed private companies to breed genetically modified mosquitoes (GMM) that carry genes which kill female offspring before adulthood, according to Live Science.

Dengue fever spreads through the female mosquitoes bite, so the hope is the GMM will cull entire populations of mosquitoes and stop the spread of disease, Live Science reported. (RELATED: Dengue Fever Outbreak Hits US After Ravaging Other Countries)

The company reportedly brought in to do this work is called Oxitec. The firm’s general manager, Natalia Ferreira, told Reuters that their work can reduce at least one species of mosquito by up to 90% in a single region. The system was previously used in the U.S. in 2021 across the Florida Keys, according to Live Science.

Residents reportedly signed petitions against the release, but these demands were ignored by officials. In the end, some 750 million to 1 billion GMMs were released in Florida throughout 2021 and 2022, according to Futurism. Florida locals reportedly called the work a form of “terrorism.”

So far, no long-term studies have been conducted to deduce the impacts of this work on the environment or human and animal health. “There have been concerns that these genetically modified mosquitoes sometimes produce viable offspring that can survive to pass on their genes to native insects, with unknown consequences. But so far, there’s no evidence to suggest this could harm humans,” Live Science wrote. (RELATED: These Are The Craziest Medical Stories Of 2023 (They Might Make You Nauseous))

But what if the GMMs do pass on their genes to other organisms? Since the purpose of the modification is to kill all females before they reach adulthood, it all sounds pretty darn dystopian to me.