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Thread: Using genetically modified male mosquitoes to control Aedes?

  1. #1
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    Using genetically modified male mosquitoes to control Aedes?

    Genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes are going to be freed in Pulau Ketam, a fishing village south of Kuala Lumpur. This is an attempt to kill Aedes mosquitoes which spread dengue fever. Read the article http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/81999.

    First of all, there is a need to correct the statement. The use of genetically modified male mosquitoes cannot kill the mosquito per se .. they are not armed with biological weapons to zap the existing mosquito population. I assume that they are using sterile male mosquitoes. What the released sterile male mosquitoes will do are to compete with existing fertile male mosquitoes and reduce the female's frequency of mating with such males and produce eggs. Thus the population cannot be wiped out but controlled because there will be fertile male - female matings. Such biological controls do not achieve 100% eradication (most biological control attempts do not achieve this but some have gone awry) but only control the population. Knowing the short life span of the mosquitoes, there is a need to repeat the release for adequate control. One release is insufficient. The fear that environmentalist have is that the genetically modified male mosquitoes may pass on unwanted traits accidentally and cause the production of new mosquitoes which will create more havoc. Imagine the scenario of new super mosquitoes that cause more harm than the present dengue mosquitoes.

  2. #2
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    Thank you for the explanation, Besitai.

  3. #3
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    There is no mention of whether a trail in contained environment have been conducted, so if something goes wrong, we will have released something that no one will be able to control. However, if those male mosquitos are really sterile, then the chances of them passing on any of their genes are nil.

    But if there has not been any trials inside fully controlled and contained environment, no one can be sure of what they are releasing. The prospect of creating a monster animal or plant is not as remote as they will have you believe.

    Some of the so called latest advances are derivation of DNA technologies some 20 years ago and I can tell you that there were a lot selection markers which will not be too welcome: these quote for antibiotics resistance.

    Unless we are 100% sure of what the hell we are doing, releasing something genetic engineered into the environment is purely foolhardy. Once released, there is no way to recall these GMO.

  4. #4
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    On the topic of the "sterile male technique", if that is what is being employed, then there are some protocols required. It is not a simple matter of releasing sterile males.

    The most important step is that the scientists need to know how many males are there in the wild population. Then the wild population need to be reduced by spraying BEFORE the sterile males are released. This is a simple case of numbers - we cannot produce enough sterile males to overwhelm the real population. In order to make the sterile males compete effectively against the fertile males, the fertile male population must be reduced. If this is not done, the whole exercise will fail because you simply cannot produce enough sterile males to make it work.

    However, in this so called exercise to control mosquitoes, are they using strile males? Maybe not...

  5. #5
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    Can someone tell our new Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai to research more on these "warriors" before making a press statement as to how wonderful the method is going to be? As kwchang says have they followed the correct protocols? I noticed that our health ministry and a certain private company are to carry out the project.

  6. #6
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    Latest from Malaysia Today's website says that the GM male mosquitoes are supposed to pass on lethal genes to the larvae which will be killed by the rogue genes. So, they are not GM male sterile mosquitoes. This new information to me causes more concern as what is to prevent unwanted genes from being passed down to the offsprings which may not be killed by the gene? Remember that the male passes one half of his set of genes while the female contributes the second half. What if a few local females contribute genes which will counteract the rougue genes? The genes contributed by the "warrior" male may not be a simple dominant trait (e.g. zapped or not zapped) but may be determined by a number of genes - a type of polygenic inheritance - then we are in for a potential problem. I noticed that the mosquitoes are being produced by a UK biotech company. I hope they have researched enough on the mosquitoes they are producing - especially the complete gene map of the potential warrirors that are to be used. Are they using local Hang Tuahs or Admiral Cheng Hos or Genghis Khan's to mate with our Mahsuris? Don't want the Hang Tuahs or foreign warriors to produce ETs that will eat us alive. But seriously, that's why the environmental groups are up in arms. The health ministry owes us, the public, a full explanation.
    Last edited by besitai2007; 28-04-2008 at 08:01 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by besitai2007
    I noticed that the mosquitoes are being produced by a UK biotech company...... The health ministry owes us, the public, a full explanation.
    I wonder who is behind the Malaysian scene working in collaboration wiz this UK biotech company...

    One too many quack shops have opened with BIG FANFARE (and closed QUIETLY) that I have lost count... Apart from the "opening" and "closing" of these projects... I am only concerned with the RM being wasted on these AliBaba schemes...

  8. #8
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    Please take a look at the current issue: http://www.sjecho.com.my/

    All Out to Fight Dengue

    "It is understood that the MoU will be signed after the appointment of the MPSJ councillors which is expected to be completed in June.
    Adnan said USM will also be working with the council to examine the 13 abandoned project sites in the municipality and subsequently make recommendations on ways to curb the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes in these areas."

    Why are they releasing those "alien" here ......... or anywhere....(

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