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A genetically modified mosquito is a good mosquito

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A New Kind of SWAT Team

A genetically modified mosquito is a good mosquito

A genetically modified mosquito is a good mosquito.

But there are cavemen among us who seem to live to thwart technological advances, and they may prefer the old disease-spreading pests that have plagued mankind since the beginning.

As far-fetched as it might sound, scientists at Imperial College London have created genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes. But these scientists are not as mad as they might seem. They plan to release the mosquitoes with the hope they will wipe out natural mosquito populations in regions where deadly malaria rages or people are plagued by dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Here’s how one of the processes works, according to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian: “The plan is to breed, sterilize and release millions of these (genetically modified) male insects so they mate with wild females but produce no offspring, eradicating insects in the target region within weeks.”

Another method is to insert a gene into the mosquitoes that keeps malaria from taking hold in the insect.

Fantastic, right? Technology finds a way to relieve suffering and improve the lives of millions of poor people, right?

Not so fast. Opponents of genetically modified organisms haven’t raised much of a fuss yet about GM mosquitoes, but it’s still early.

Remember, these are people who have likened genetically modified foods, which have been shown to be safe, to a nuclear holocaust. They are the same zealots who have created such an unfounded climate of fear that some African nations with starving populations have banned GM food aid from the U.S.

“They basically are saying it is better for a million people starve to death than eat perfectly nutritious genetically modified food from the U.S. where people have been eating it for 10 years without negative effect,” Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder who broke ties with the group, said about three years ago.

Somebody needs to swat these people!

A million people die from malaria every year across the world. It would be morally wrong for GM opponents to again stand between a technological breakthrough and the poor people whose lives it would save.

So let’s hope that science will make the world a better place by solving the problem of those little blood-sucking pests—um, that is, opponents of genetic modification.

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Written By

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter: @MerrillMatthews.

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