We’re moving toward a brave new world of gene editing that the science is telling us could have disastrous consequences. Action Alert!
Genetically-engineered (GE) mosquitoes have been released in a number of countries, including the US. We’ve known for some time that these experiments have not gone to plan, but a new paper provides a better understanding of how they’ve went awry, and provides a harrowing warning for what could go wrong with a new era of gene editing known as “gene drives” in which the genetics of entire species can be tampered with. This could create a nightmare scenario where, instead of a disease-carrying mosquito population being controlled or eliminated, unpredicted changes occur that make them even more virulent and dangerous.
Current GE experiments involve altering the genetics of mosquitoes to be “self-limiting,” meaning that offspring inherit a gene that prevents them from surviving to adulthood, thus driving the population down. The goal is to limit the spread of diseases like dengue and yellow fever. But what has happened is that a certain percentage of the offspring of the GE mosquitoes are surviving and integrating into the gene pool of the local population. Scientists note this will have unpredictable consequences and could lead to more pathogenic disease strains—the very opposite of what these experiments were supposed to accomplish.
The new paper adds additional worry to tampering with nature in this manner. It found that spontaneous mutations in laboratory flies can occur, leading to genetic resistance to the intended trait. This helps explain why a certain percentage of mosquitoes that are engineered to die before they are able to reproduce are in fact able to live on and procreate.
The study authors also caution that this finding has profound implications for other experiments in gene editing like “gene drives.” Gene drives involve introducing a genetic modification that is designed to spread through a population at higher-than-normal rates: instead of a trait being passed to around 50 percent of offspring—the normal inheritance rate—the change is passed on to up to 100 percent of offspring. Currently, gene drives are being considered for population control of invasive species, to reverse insecticide-resistance in pests, and to eliminate insect-borne diseases.
But, as we saw with the example of the GE mosquitoes, this technology is leaky—that is, some of the target population resist the trait, or unpredictable side effects occur that could lead to disaster. Instead of making pests more susceptible to an insecticide, they become more resistant; instead of eliminating disease, you’ve created a more virulent mosquito. In trying to control nature, you’ve released a host of unpredictable and unintended consequences.
No engineered gene drive has yet been released into the wild, but some estimate that the technology could be ready in as little as three years. Experiments in gene drives so far have involved mosquitoes, fruit flies, fungi, and mice.
Surveys show the public is vehemently opposed to gene drives. Forty-six to 70% of the people had high levels of opposition, depending on the country; just 7 to 16% supported the technology.
There is a disturbing mentality among some scientists working in this space. Consider the following quote in 2016 from a biophysicist regarding CRISPR, the gene editing technology that makes gene drives possible: “There is a mentality that as long as it works, we don’t have to understand how or why it works.” This is an incredibly dangerous mindset to have when the stakes are so high and the consequences so potentially disastrous.
The point is that we cannot control what happens once GE experiments are released into the environment. As reported by Protect Nature Now, a number of years ago, the release of a GE bacteria could have conceivably destroyed all terrestrial plants. See our video for more details.
These are the forces we are playing with, and we do so at our own peril.
Plans are in place to release more GM mosquitoes in Florida this year. We must oppose this and any other, similar future efforts.
Action Alert! Write to Congress, telling them to put a stop to the release of GE mosquitoes. Please send your message immediately.
13 thoughts on “Driving Genetic Destruction”
Experimenting is not an option, with the unknown. The living men and women here in Florida and the world have said NO to these experiments were environment can not be controlled and unknown consequence. These experimental release of geneticly modified species is criminal and should stop immediately. All should be held accountable, no excuses.
WE must NOT ALLOW gene edited mosquitos to be released into the wild. We are setting a course of potentially devastating, unanticipated and very likely uncontrollable effects from these ‘experiments’ Scientists are not ‘gods’ in their ability to imagine and manage the consequences of these experiments and we have the responsibility to prevent them. Please top these attempts asap.
as much as I greatly appreciate your work I don’t care about “exec directors” and in fact feel hierarchy is the old guard reason we are in this mess thru history a paradigm where one person is deemed more important than the rest…it is discouraging having to read that every time I take an action pleased can you take that off
You aren’t God. You did not create this place. Your knowledge is miniscule. That which you did not create, you must respect. Rule 1 of the Original Instructions.
These “mad scientists” will not stop with insects and small animals, they will move on to the top of the food chain, eg “so-called” injections of gene therapy. The end result will be disastrous for human beings, which is the intent. The group wanting to reduce the world population by billions is hard at work in every area necessary to human survival.
GE IS JUST CRAZY.
Please put a stop to the release of GE mosquitoes.
GE insects is simply crazy. We have no right to change in insect that God created! Are we out of our minds???
Once there was an Earth far more beautiful than it is now. Every section of it functioned better because of Nature’s balance and little interference. There weren’t so many meddlers/tamperers then as there are now. The arrogance of man, to think that he can improve on the exquisite and complex designs of existing creatures, all of which have a reason for being here. In his attempt to stem one problem, he creates masses of other problems – no wonder we are in such a mess!
To eliminate the adult mosquito would devastate predators and the natural food chain would suffer all the way up to the human species. Such a short term benefit to disease prevention is absurd since long term studies have already shown the diversity that life has within it’s genetic structures and to not know how this will actually effect the diseases this modification may produce is a rather mad science. Stop now before the pestilence becomes another pandemic.
WE must NOT release gene edited mosquitos. This could be devastating. There could be far-reaching effects that the experimenters didn’t predict.
Guess these scientist have forgotten what they did with the bee’s. Thinking they could improve the honey production, we now have killer bee’s that are destroying the honey bee’s we still have. Frankenstein must be their roll model!
“It’s not Nice to fool with Mother Nature!”