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Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
The fight against mosquitoes has been waging since the dawn of humankind. In fact, these pests are often considered the top natural enemy of humans, since they’re a vector species for a number of fatal diseases.
Through the centuries, humans have fought back against this scourge in one way or another. Some solutions have proven to be highly effective at combatting mosquitoes, and others simply do not work. Regardless, scientists continue to develop new ways to get rid of mosquitoes, and one the most recent is the development of GMO mosquitoes. These lab-raised insects are then mixed in with the wild population, where the two breed. The resulting offspring, however, die off before reaching maturity.
GMO mosquitoes have their proponents and detractors. Supporters of the technology consider it a huge step forward in the war against mosquitoes. Critics say it is dangerous to manipulate the DNA of any animal, and the experimentation could bring disastrous consequences.
The arguments for both raise some valid points, which we explore below.
PROS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED MOSQUITOES
For the producers and supporters of GMO mosquitoes, this solution offers an environmentally friendly way to remove an invasive mosquito species. It has been shown that invasive mosquitoes can carry diseases that can be fatal to humans. Here are some of the common benefits cited by proponents of genetically modified mosquitoes:
- Scientists say the introduction of GMO mosquitoes will lower the population of disease-carrying biting insects over time.
- Field-testing of the GMO mosquito has not found any significant impact on humans.
- Reviews suggest the loss of invasive mosquito species will have little to no effect on local environments since they didn’t belong there to begin with.
- The release of GMO mosquitoes relies on a simple numbers game – overwhelming natural male mosquitoes with GMO male mosquitoes to out-compete them for mates.
- Naturalists say invasive species of any kind must be eliminated from these environs at all costs.
- No pesticides are added to the environment when using GMO mosquitoes.
- Seeding areas with GMO male mosquitoes is relatively easy and a low-manpower activity.
- The introduction of GMO mosquitoes can supplement existing mechanical efforts to control mosquito populations, including the use of a Mosquito Magnet® mosquito trap.
CONS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED MOSQUITOES
For the critics of GMO mosquitoes, these “Frankenstein” creatures pose an unquantifiable threat that may not have appropriate checks and balances in nature. Here are some of their common complaints or concerns with genetically modified mosquitoes:
- Concerns that the GMO mosquitoes may carry or develop unknown pathogens that hurt humans.
- Critics say there has not been enough testing and observation of the GMO mosquitoes.
- Though the mosquito is an introduced species, native species are now reliant on these mosquitoes for their diet.
- Concerns that the GMO mosquitoes may mutate into a stronger mosquito that can reproduce, which poses a whole new threat.
- Despite claims to the opposite, a new type of mosquito – a GMO mosquito – will be added to the environment under the GMO plan.
- Only areas where humans are present need to be sprayed, which reduces insecticide impact.
- Most pesticides have been ruled safe by government researchers, so why risk a GMO release?
- Fear that despite the gene modification, some of the hatched GMO mosquitoes will survive to adulthood and breed.
- The cost of producing GMO mosquitoes is too expensive and too time-consuming.
- There are already numerous methods for destroying mosquitoes or protecting people from them, including the use of a Mosquito Magnet® mosquito trap.
WHO’S RIGHT? ARE GMO MOSQUITOES GOOD OR BAD?
Naturally, both sides say their points or concerns outweigh those from the other side. The use of GMO mosquitoes is definitely increasing. Brazil, for example, has a GMO mosquito-breeding facility with plans to begin releasing the GMOs soon. Here in the U.S., plans are underway to test GMO mosquitoes in the Florida Keys and measure the results.
While that’s all happening, anti-GMO activists are doing everything they can to stop such releases. They’re filling up town meetings, demanding information and insisting on more studies of the impact of these creatures.
Who’s right? It’s hard to say, since both have valid concerns. As a result, one can only say, “Time will tell.”
Mosquito Magnet® has no official position on the GMO mosquito debate – our only concern is that you see relief from biting insects in any way possible. We’ll also keep watching the headlines and report back to you on any new developments or updates on the GMO mosquito debate.
CONTROLLING MOSQUITOES IN YOUR BACKYARD
While the argument over using genetically modified mosquitoes carries on, turn to Mosquito Magnet® for a pesticide-free solution to your backyard or business. To learn more about how your business can benefit from protecting customers and co-workers from biting insects, visit our business solution center. Join Mosquito Magnet® on Facebook for regular updates on GMO mosquitoes and other efforts to control this deadly insect. Get more information on battling mosquitoes and other biting insects by signing up for the Mosquito Magnet® E-Newsletter, which also delivers important Mosquito Magnet® announcements to your inbox.