Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

pros-and-cons-of-genetically-modified-mosquitoes

Don’t let the small size of mosquitoes fool you—because they can be extremely dangerous. How dangerous they are can be easily gauged from the fact that every year millions of people worldwide die from mosquito-borne illnesses. For centuries, mankind has been waging a war against them in one way or another.

Some methods of combating mosquito menace have proved effective while some have failed to make any tangible difference. Nevertheless, scientists are still trying to develop better, more effective ways to defeat mosquitoes.

One recent development that has garnered a lot of interest in general and generated mixed response from experts is GMO mosquitoes or in other words genetically-modified mosquitoes. These insects are raised in labs and then mixed with general mosquito population for breeding. When a GMO mosquito breeds with a normal mosquito, the ensuing offspring dies before it reaches maturity.

Several experts are in favor of developing GMO mosquitoes, but an equal number of them are opposed to the whole idea. While supporters claim this is a big step in the combat against mosquitoes, detractors believe tinkering with the DNA of mosquitoes or, for that matter, any other animal is not only unethical but also likely to have long-term negative consequences.

Both the parties have some valid arguments, which are explored ahead.

Pros of Developing GMO Mosquitoes

According to the supports of developing GMO mosquitoes, this novel way offers an effective way of getting rid of invasive mosquitoes on a large scale. Some main benefits listed by people who support GMO mosquitoes are as follows:

  • Introducing GMO mosquitoes will reduce mosquito population gradually
  • When scientists tested GMO mosquitoes, they didn’t find any considerable impact on people. Just like it is important to use a mosquito repellent which uses natural means to combat the mosquito problem in your home or office, it is imperative to naturally tackle the mosquito menace on a large scale as well.
  • There’s no complicated equation at work regarding the use of GMO mosquitoes. The plan is simple: release more GMO mosquitoes than natural male mosquitoes so that the latter are outnumbered.
  • Use of GMO mosquitoes doesn’t require use of any pesticides, which as you might know are harmful for us and environment. This is the main reason why experts recommend using this as a more natural mosquito control method for tackling the mosquito menace.

Cons of Developing GMO Mosquitoes

People who are against the use of GMO mosquitoes usually give the following arguments to support their stand.

  • It is possible that GMO mosquitoes might develop unknown and dangerous pathogens.
  • Enough testing has not been done, at least on large scale, to say with complete certainty that GMO mosquitoes are safe for humans.
  • Mutations might occur, which in turn would pose a serious threat
  • Government researchers have adjudged most pesticides as safe, so why use a new method whose long-term impact on humans is unknown
  • The cost of developing GMO mosquitoes is significant
  • In spite of gene modification, the resulting offspring might survive well into adulthood and multiply further.

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