K.M. spotted this one and passed it along, and if you're like me, it will leave you rather breathless. After reading this article - and its relative lack of information - my first thought was "IG Farbensanto strikes again," except that there does not appear to be a megacorporation coupled with this latest gaffe. No, this time it appears that BigSci (Big science) has stepped in all by itself to lend a helping hand to mother nature to Make the Planet Safe for All. No, wait... there was a corporation behind it after all.
"How?" you might say. "Why, by genetically modifying mosquitoes," they'll answer, "so that they'll mingle with other mosquitoes, do the mosquito version of the mattress tango, and pass along their genetic modification which will decrease their population. Malaria and other blood-born diseases will go down. Hooray."
Except there's just one teensy tiny little problem. It didn't work:
Here's the story in a nutshell:
GENETICALLY modified mosquitoes that were designed by scientists to help populations decrease are actually thriving.
This is according to new research that claims the plan to create gene-hacked mosquitoes that have offspring which die immediately has spectacularly backfired and now scientists don't know what will happen next.
The modified mosquitoes were released in Jacobina in Brazil and were supposed to mix with the local population and decrease numbers with their weak offspring genetics.
Although the wild population did plummet for a short while, 18 months later it was right back up again.
This is mostly concerning because scientists think the new 'super mosquitoes' have properties that might make them harder to kill.
But wait, there's more:
However, now traces of the genetically modified genes have been found in the natural population.
This means they are successfully interbreeding.
The researchers concluded: "It is unclear how this may affect disease transmission or affect other efforts to control these dangerous vectors."
The offspring of the gene-hacked mosquitoes and the natural ones are thought to be more robust but whether they pose a threat is unknown.
Oxitec, the British biotech company running the project, assured members of the public that this negative result would not happen.
It then released 450,000 genetically mutated mosquitoes into the wild where interbreeding caused the spread of the mutated genes because the offspring failed to die.
Gee, that sounds vaguely familiar... sort of like the promises made by IG Farbensanto that their GMO seeds were entirely "substantially equivalent" to those made by Mother Nature, and hence we did not need long term independent intergenerational testing. But hey, we'll take those patents.
But then, over time, the yields fell, the pests adapted, and we're back to square one. (Well, not really, because the pests adapted, and the GMOs didn't). I'm going to call this whole phenomenon of busy-body corporations and their lab rats (by which I mean the rodents conducting the experiments, not the ones running through the mazes) "big corposcience" with "corposcience" designating that whole panoply of technocratic hubris on the spectrum between pseudo-science and quasi-science, with the difference being that big corposcience really does work, but only for a little while, and always with unintended and usually deleterious consequences. (Notice the word "delete" in the word "deleterious". Maybe that's a hint, or a warning. I don't know.)
Reading between the lines a bit, it's a safe guess what happened here: the company proposing this project did a laboratory study of the mosquitoes under controlled circumstances, and the results showed a decline in the population over a few generations. It then concluded that it was safe to proceed with the release of the modified little Messerschmitts, and lo and behold, under the different circumstances of being in the wild and doing what mosquitoes do, interbreeding occurred with a few Spitfires and P51s along the way, and the populations of the new interbred mosquitoes increased, and that somehow the interbreeding made the resulting offspring more robust and more dangerous. And if one reads between the lines a bit, that's precisely what we see: the scientists are now worried that what may result from this is a new more robust type of mosquito; call it Messerschmittus Spitfireus 51. My suspicion? Behind the hemming and hawing and guarded language, they've already seen evidence of it, and are afraid to admit it. (Now, of course, all of this is being explained as a "mistake" and a "woops", but one does have to entertain the idea that it may not have been, that the results were really, though secretly, sought after. Why? I don't know, but we're living in an age when the "leaders" and "technocrats" of the West are so utterly without normal human common sense, emotion, and thought, that one cannot rule out the possibility.)
So I have a modest suggestion: we need to insist that this company patent its invention, and own it. In fact, the patent needs to be taken out in the name of the corporation and the names of the individual scientists who made the modification. Give credit where credit is due. And when the diseases start spreading, and the usual means of getting rid of too many mosquitoes fail to work on Messerschmittus Spitfireus 51 (MS51), and people get sick and their GMO crops start failing because the people who tend to them are sick and were made even sicker by the vaccine made by Muck Pharmaceuticals their doctors were required by law to give them , they then need to have the opportunity to explain themselves in lawsuits, just like IG Farbensanto. And speaking of IG Farbensanto, why, with luck, that cartel could recoup some of the money it has lost in lawsuits by suing the people making the GMMs (genetically modified mosquitoes) and the vaccines. One can see it now: the lawyers for the plaintiff release thousands of the little MS51s into the courtroom, standard methods of eradicating the little bugs - anti-aircraft fire, surface to air missiles, and so on - fail as the judge, attorneys, and gallery are strafed into submission; the case is proved, and the jury, safely ensconced behind mosquito nets watching the carnage awards the cartel billions of dollars. Hooray! BigSci and BigLiti (Big Litigation) win again!
On a more serious note, I'm reminded of the observation of C.S. Lewis after reading this story, that a hell for men and a heaven for mosquitoes can be very conveniently arranged.
See you on the flip side...