I begin today's early observance with DW Planet A asking We could kill all mosquitoes (but should we?).
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Scientists have found a way to get rid of them by spreading a gene to wipe out mosquito populations. But is it a good idea?The experts interviewed by DW Planet A expressed ambivalence about the prospect, although I doubt humans would ever get around to all the thousands of mosquito species. As for using genetic modification on mosquito species that carry diseases other than malaria, that's already happening in the U.S., as Wired reported in Inside the Plan to Release Life-Saving Mosquitoes two months ago.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is turning towards a novel tool to combat harmful insecticide-resistant mosquitoes like the Aedes aegypti. What are they doing exactly? They're releasing millions of genetically modified male mosquitoes engineered to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti. How exactly does this work? We'll break it down.Not only is Aedes aegypti a disease vector, it's also invasive in the Florida Keys, so eliminating it could restore balance to the ecosystem instead of disturbing it. Good riddance!
One of the goals of the Gates Foundation is the elimination of malaria and parasitic diseases. Bill Gates (or at least the people who run his YouTube channel) uploaded The Mosquito Factory this week, showing a biological control method other than genetic modification.
Inside a two-story brick building in Medellín, Colombia, scientists work long hours in muggy labs breeding millions and millions of mosquitoes. They tend to the insects’ every need as they grow from larvae to pupae to adults, keeping the temperature just right and feeding them generous helpings of fishmeal, sugar, and, of course, blood. Then, they release them across the country to breed with wild mosquitoes that can carry dengue and other viruses threatening to sicken and kill the population of Colombia. This might sound like the beginnings of a Hollywood writer’s horror film plot. But it’s not. This factory is real. And the mosquitoes being released don’t terrorize the local population. Far from it. They’re actually helping to save and improve millions of lives.Using one parasite that doesn't affect humans to reduce the ability of an insect to spread a parasite harmful to humans — clever! It's also not forever in the same way genetic modification is. Fine by me.
That concludes this year's celebration of World Mosquito Day. Stay tuned for an entry about award-nominated television documentaries for World Honey Bee Day.