Have you ever had the feeling that some mosquitos are just ridiculously good looking? Uhhh ya me neither. But if you did you wouldn’t be crazy, because that’s exactly what the company Oxitec created.
The U.K. biotech company put forth a plan to eliminate a virus called degue fever, that causes 2.3 million infections and 25,000 deaths per year, simply by breeding extremely attractive male mosquitoes.
The idea is that this new breed of mosquito, technically called OX513A, have offspring that are unable to properly breed. So as the generations of mosquitoes go on, less and less of them will be able to have little mosquito babies. The only problem with this is that in the attempts to decline the mosquito population, you could wind up eventually wiping out the entire species.
With an outcome that could be so catastrophic, you’d think the company would hesitate to move forward, but in 2009 Oxitec released 19,000 of these suckers to the world… get it “suckers”. But if that wasn’t enough they released another three million onto the Grand Cayman Island in 2010.
Despite the government or local authorities not finding out about the experiment for another year, the company reported that it was a complete success, with the entire population of mosquitoes decreasing by 80 percent in just 3 months.
Since the initial test the company has done preapproved tests in Malaysia and Brazil. Last year it was able to eliminate 85% of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in a suburb just outside of Jacobina. Ultimately saving thousands of life.
With a topic like genetically modified insects you can bet there’s a lot of divide between government officials and environmentalists. But one day it might just become as commonplace as something like genetically modified crops.
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