Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Blue Ridge Mountains, USA
    Posts
    5,020
    Thanks
    6,097
    Thanked 3,199 Times in 1,956 Posts

    Brazil Rolls Out GM Mosquito Farms

    Brazil Rolls Out GM Mosquito Farms - Jul 18, 2012 | Robyn Correll Carlyle | Research & Policy

    Brazil has opened its first-ever, large-scale genetically modified mosquito farm in an effort to reduce the incidence of dengue fever.

    The mosquitoes are a genetically modified (GM) version of the Aedes aegypti, the species responsible for transmitting the dengue virus to humans. The farm was inaugurated early last week and is expected to produce millions of GM insects each month.

    Scientists at the British-based Oxitec developed a method of shortening the lifespan of the mosquitoes and reducing mosquito populations by, essentially, sterilizing them. The mosquitoes are engineered to need the antibiotic tetracycline to develop beyond adolescence. Male mosquitoes in the laboratory are given the antibiotic to reach adulthood and then released into the wild to breed with wild females. The larvae, unable to access tetracycline, die before they are fully-grown. After a few days, both the offspring and the released males are dead.

    Small-scale trials of the method have shown some success in the Grand Cayman Islands, Brazil and Malaysia. After the introduction of the GM mosquitoes into the environment, A. aegypti populations were reduced to between 75 to 90 percent, compared to similar areas where the mosquitoes were not released.

    Scientists are calling it a victory in the fight against dengue.

    "From a scientific point of view and an environmental sustainability point of view, we think we have a really good solution to the problem," said CEO of Oxitec, Hadyn Parry.

    It is easy to see why researchers are excited about the results. Dengue fever is a public health nightmare. The mosquitoes that transmit the virus feed during the day, making it difficult to kill them effectively with insecticide and the use of bed nets ineffective. The insects also lay their eggs in clean, still water, often in urban areas. There is no effective vaccine or cure, only limited treatment options, and it is widespread – affecting between 50 and 100 million people each year worldwide.

    The primary method of managing dengue has been through mosquito control. The use of GM mosquitoes could help eliminate the A. aegypti at a lower cost than current methods and without using as many chemicals, effectively saving endemic countries billions of dollars each year.

    Oxitec estimates that apart from the cost of startup – production facilities, equipment and training – its method would cost less than $10 per person per year, making it more feasible for poorer countries to fight rising rates of dengue.

    "This is not a rich man's tool; there's no point in protecting a rich man's mansion," Parry said. "You want to protect a community so it's got to be cheap."

    But not everyone is thrilled about the idea.

    The mosquitoes are a genetically modified (GM) version of the Aedes aegypti, the species responsible for transmitting the dengue virus to humans. The farm was inaugurated early last week and is expected to produce millions of GM insects each month.

    Scientists at the British-based Oxitec developed a method of shortening the lifespan of the mosquitoes and reducing mosquito populations by, essentially, sterilizing them. The mosquitoes are engineered to need the antibiotic tetracycline to develop beyond adolescence. Male mosquitoes in the laboratory are given the antibiotic to reach adulthood and then released into the wild to breed with wild females. The larvae, unable to access tetracycline, die before they are fully-grown. After a few days, both the offspring and the released males are dead.

    Small-scale trials of the method have shown some success in the Grand Cayman Islands, Brazil and Malaysia. After the introduction of the GM mosquitoes into the environment, A. aegypti populations were reduced to between 75 to 90 percent, compared to similar areas where the mosquitoes were not released.

    Scientists are calling it a victory in the fight against dengue.

    "From a scientific point of view and an environmental sustainability point of view, we think we have a really good solution to the problem," said CEO of Oxitec, Hadyn Parry.

    It is easy to see why researchers are excited about the results. Dengue fever is a public health nightmare. The mosquitoes that transmit the virus feed during the day, making it difficult to kill them effectively with insecticide and the use of bed nets ineffective. The insects also lay their eggs in clean, still water, often in urban areas. There is no effective vaccine or cure, only limited treatment options, and it is widespread – affecting between 50 and 100 million people each year worldwide.

    The primary method of managing dengue has been through mosquito control. The use of GM mosquitoes could help eliminate the A. aegypti at a lower cost than current methods and without using as many chemicals, effectively saving endemic countries billions of dollars each year.

    Oxitec estimates that apart from the cost of startup – production facilities, equipment and training – its method would cost less than $10 per person per year, making it more feasible for poorer countries to fight rising rates of dengue.

    "This is not a rich man's tool; there's no point in protecting a rich man's mansion," Parry said. "You want to protect a community so it's got to be cheap."

    But not everyone is thrilled about the idea.

    A mothers group out of Key West, a proposed location for the release of the GM mosquitoes, has come out vehemently opposed to it.

    “If something goes wrong the consequences could be catastrophic, not only for humans but also the whole ecosystem, said Mila de Mier, a Key West resident told the Guardian. “I don’t want my family being used as laboratory rats for this.”

    De Mier started a petition on the social movement website Change.org in opposition to Oxitec that has now collected roughly 100,000 signatures.

    The primary concern, de Mier said, was the uncertainty and lack of scientific data regarding potential the GM mosquitoes will pose long-term harm to Key West’s ecosystem and its inhabitants.

    She and others who oppose the research also point out the potential risk of females being released along with the males, the possibility that the gene will mutate, and any unforeseen potential negative effects it might have on the area’s insects and wildlife.

    Researchers, however, dismiss these concerns.

    "We are not putting an advantage into these mosquitoes; we are putting in a disadvantage, sterility, which is the biggest disadvantage you can have," Parry said. "You are not spreading your gene down generations because each one is sterile – it dies out. They do not out cross and mate with other species. So you are not spreading your gene laterally or downward."

    - See more at: http://www.healthmap.org/site/diseas....l6bhmMYI.dpuf

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Blue Ridge Mountains, USA
    Posts
    5,020
    Thanks
    6,097
    Thanked 3,199 Times in 1,956 Posts

    Re: Brazil Rolls Out GM Mosquito Farms

    Genetically Modified Mosquitoes: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    The Zika virus could open the door for a new era of gene-tweaking for pest control and disease prevention.

    History is filthy with stories of pest control gone terribly, terribly wrong.

    Consider, for example, the infamous tale of how the mongoose got to the Hawaiian Islands. The sleek carnivore was imported in the 1880s as part of a plan by the sugar industry to subdue the rats that wouldn’t stop gnawing through stalks of sugar cane.

    Mongoose do enjoy a tasty rat supper, when the opportunity presents itself, but there was a problem: Rats are active at night, while mongoose are active during the day. So instead of decimating the rat population, the mongoose came to Hawaii and feasted on native birds and their eggs. The rat scourge continued unabated.

    Australia implemented a similarly ill-conceived plan when it introduced poisonous toads to its sugar-cane fields in the 1930s as a way to control crop-damaging beetles. The toads thrived and wreaked havoc on native species, while the beetles continued chomping away on the roots and leaves of sugar cane, just as they had before.

    Today, the outcome of these and similar pest-control experiments remain parables for the folly of human intervention into complex ecosystems. People have since become better primed to stop and ask, “what if?” before attempting an environmental response that can’t be undone. But, “what if” is never an easy question to answer.

    * * *

    Today, scientists don’t need mongoose or toads for pest control. In some cases, they can just tweak the genes of the animal or insect they’re trying to vanquish. There’s good evidence to support the idea that genetic modification of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, for example, could help dramatically reduce its population.

    Aedes aegypti is the main vector of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that has public-health officials around the world on edge. In Brazil, hundreds of babies born to Zika-infected mothers have suffered severe birth defects since last year. Public-health officials, who are calling Zika a global emergency, estimate that number will climb well into the thousands in Brazil alone. In the United States and elsewhere, as mosquito season ramps up, people are bracing for additional outbreaks.

    At the same time, in a small Florida community near Key West, the Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comments on a proposal from the biotechnology firm Oxitec to introduce genetically modified Aedes aegypti males into the local mosquito population. If Oxitec is successful, its technology could help wipe out Aedes aegypti in the region—and protect people from Zika transmission there.

    Read the full article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/technolog...s-zika/479793/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Blue Ridge Mountains, USA
    Posts
    5,020
    Thanks
    6,097
    Thanked 3,199 Times in 1,956 Posts

    Re: Brazil Rolls Out GM Mosquito Farms

    Morning Mix
    ‘Like it’s been nuked’: Millions of bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes

    On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers.

    Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit — in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind.

    Instead, the dead heaps signaled the killer was less mysterious, but no less devastating. The pattern matched acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, at a single apiary — Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville — 46 hives died on the spot, totaling about 2.5 million bees.

    Walking through the farm, one Summerville woman wrote on Facebook, was “like visiting a cemetery, pure sadness.”

    A Clemson University scientist collected soil samples from Flowertown on Tuesday, according to WCBD-TV, to further investigate the cause of death. But to the bee farmers, the reason is already clear. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester’s own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes.

    On Sunday morning, parts of Dorchester County were sprayed with Naled, a common insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. The United States began using Naled in 1959, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which notes that the chemical dissipates so quickly it is not a hazard to people. That said, human exposure to Naled during spraying “should not occur.”

    In parts of South Carolina, trucks trailing pesticide clouds are not an unusual sight, thanks to a mosquito-control program that also includes destroying larvae. Given the current concerns of West Nile virus and Zika — there are several dozen cases of travel-related Zika in South Carolina, though the state health department reports no one has yet acquired the disease from a local mosquito bite — Dorchester decided to try something different Sunday

    It marked a departure from Dorchester County’s usual ground-based efforts. For the first time, an airplane dispensed Naled in a fine mist, raining insect death from above between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The county says it provided plenty of warning, spreading word about the pesticide plane via a newspaper announcement Friday and a Facebook post Saturday.

    Local beekeepers felt differently.

    “Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,'” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said in an interview with Charleston’s WCSC-TV. Stanley told the Charleston Post and Courier that the bees are her income, but she is more devastated by the loss of the bees than her honey.

    The county acknowledged the bee deaths Tuesday. “Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives,” Jason Ward, county administrator, said in a news release. He added, according to the Charleston Post and Courier, “I am not pleased that so many bees were killed.”

    Read more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...ka-mosquitoes/

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •