Why is it in the news?
- Mosquitoes have plagued humans for millions of years, transmitting diseases like malaria, dengue, Zika, and more.
- Rapid urbanization and climate change have exacerbated mosquito-borne diseases, necessitating innovative mosquito control methods.
Genetic Modification in Mosquitoes
- GM mosquitoes are produced in laboratories. They carry two types of genes:
- A self-limiting gene that prevents female mosquito offspring from reaching adulthood.
- A fluorescent marker gene for easy identification in the wild.
- These modifications are essential due to mosquito resistance to insecticides and treatments.
- The modified mosquitoes have a shorter lifespan due to peptides impairing the malarial parasite’s development.
- Gene drive technology is a powerful tool, combined with drugs, vaccines, and mosquito control, to combat malaria and save human lives.
Pros of Genetically modified mosquitoes
- Successful use in various regions to control specific mosquito species.
- Target only the desired mosquito species, sparing other types.
- No known risks to people, animals, or the environment.
- Expected reduction in disease-carrying mosquito populations over time.
- Limited impact on local environments due to invasive mosquito species.
- No addition of pesticides to the environment.
- Relatively easy and low-manpower process for seeding areas with GMO male mosquitoes.
Cons of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
- Concerns about potential unknown pathogens carried or developed by GMO mosquitoes.
- Insufficient testing and observation of GMO mosquitoes, according to critics.
- Potential disruption of native species reliant on GMO mosquitoes for their diet.
- Possibility of GMO mosquitoes mutating into stronger, reproductive forms.
- Fear that some hatched GMO mosquitoes may survive and breed.
- High cost and time-consuming production of GMO mosquitoes.
- Careful planning to minimize risks in field trials.
- Implementation of integrated mosquito management, including community education, surveillance, larvicides, and insecticides.
- Elimination of standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs.
- Monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of mosquito control programs.