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Genetically Modified ‘Zika’ Mosquitoes Now ‘Stronger’ And ‘Harder To Control’

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Genetically Modified ‘Zika’ Mosquitoes Now ‘Stronger’ And ‘Harder To Control’

At the time, the movement to genetically modify mosquitoes sounded like a great idea. The media was ramping up its Zika fear-mongering, so the crowd was ripe for someone to do something. But it seems that genetically modifying mosquitoes, as a plan, has led to some rather startling unintended consequences.

Scientists at Yale found evidence of new, hybrid mosquitoes that are stronger and harder to control. All the result of a biotech company’s mosquito genetic modification program that was intended to cut down on the spread of Zika. The idea was that the modifications would create sterile offspring, thus, cutting down on the mosquito population.

“The idea would be that when these males mated with females, the offspring would die. And therefore the overall population size of the mosquitos would decline.”

Yale professor Jeffrey Powell, who was recently tasked with looking at the results of the program, said.

But all was not what it should have been. Instead, Powell’s findings were both surprising and stunning. When looking at the program’s effects in Brazil, results don’t mesh with the original goals of the program.

“What we found was unexpected. Unpredicted.”

Scientists discovered hybrid mosquitoes, a mix between the native and genetically modified mosquitoes, that weren’t sterile at all.

“We don’t know what the effect of having this hybrid population is. These could be stronger mosquitos, harder to control.”

Now, scientists are concerned that we aren’t done with the “unexpected results.” In other words, the situation could worsen as time goes on, given that the new mosquito breed is much more difficult to control.

Some might call the original idea of modifying the DNA of mosquitoes an overreaction to the media’s Zika hype. As it stands, they may turn out to be right seeing that we now have a worse situation with mosquitoes than before. Now Brazil has a worse mosquito problem than before and unfortunately, the new breed of mosquito is more powerful and resilient. This will mean an increased mosquito population over decades. If mosquito-borne illnesses were the concern, that concern is now much worse.

Author: Jim Satney

PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.

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