January 15, 2018
After numerous stories regarding the creation and distribution of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Florida, there seems to be no sign of walking back on the controversial procedure, despite the outcry from the populations set to be the next test bed. Instead, not only are the mosquito releases continuing, but the process of fine tuning those mosquitoes has been supercharged by additional laboratories and even by the shadowy Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) under the guise of attempting to eliminate malaria.
At issue here is the concept of “Gene drives,” a system of genetic tampering that changes the natural inheritance mechanism that sees offspring maintain a 50/50 chance of inheriting a genetic trait and provides scientists with the opportunity to vastly increase the possibility of inheriting the desired trait.
Health and Medicine website, STAT, reports on some of the latest public developments surrounding the mosquito trials by writing,
In a warm and very humid room, behind a series of sealed doors, Omar Akbari keeps a zoo of mosquito mutants. He’s got mosquitoes with three eyes, mosquitoes with malformed mouthparts, mosquitoes with forked wings, mosquitoes with eerie white eyes, and mosquitoes that are bright yellow instead of black.
Akbari loves them unabashedly; he feeds them fish flakes, mouse blood, and sugar water and calls some of them “beautiful.” But they’re not pets: Akbari’s lab here at the University of California, Riverside, is at the leading edge of a revolutionary technology — gene drive — that could one day deploy mosquito mutants to rid the world of scourges like malaria, dengue, and Zika.