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Genetically modified insects


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Today I just became aware of several instances where scientists have or are planning to release genetically engineered insects into the environment to interact with wild populations.  

 

Apparently mosquitoes have been gentically engineered with a "suicide gene" in the Florida Keys.

 

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/9/genetically-modifiedmosquitoessetoffuproarinfloridakeys.html

 

And then Cornell is planning to do a study where they release moths that have been genetically engineered to eat pests that eat cabbage plants.

 

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/the-science-is-still-out-on-gmo-moths/

 

I just have kind of a cringe reaction when I think about genetic engineering moving from plants to animals...  What do others think?

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I guess what disturbs me is a) the precedent of genetically modifying living breathing things, even if they are insects, and b) what happens when these modified insects breed with the natural population?  and you have carnivorous moths eating other insects?  

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I think the intent of the genetically modified mosquitoes is to help reduce or eliminate malaria. If not the specific project you're referencing, then there is another project working on that.

 

While I would like to see less malaria, I'm not convinced it's a great idea because I'm not sure how far up the food web researchers have looked for outcomes... intended or unintended.

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Most of these insects being released are sterile. The reason they want to have them join the general population is because no offspring results.

 

And on the one hand I am against GMOs, but on the other, we have been genetically modifying animals and plants for centuries, if not millennia. We just didn't know the mechanism, or have a name for it.

 

Grafting a tree branch to another tree, picking the best bull and the best cow to mate to produce the best offspring, narrowing down the best crop (like barely, wheat, etc) and using the seeds from the best plants. All genetic engineering.

 

Again, I am actually not a fan of GMOs, the least they could do is use more accurate labels. But genetic engineering is not new. At all.

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Most of these insects being released are sterile.

 

That makes it reasonably safe...I guess?

 

I'm too tired to talk about why GMO's are kinda worrisome.  

Offhand because a lot of the genes inserted are so they can hose the stuff down with glyphosate weedkiller.

That and novel food allergy issues.

 

It's not so much attack of the killer GMO tomatoes, as " Hey, we're doing this and not testing it thoroughly first. "

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Again, I am actually not a fan of GMOs, the least they could do is use more accurate labels. But genetic engineering is not new. At all.

 

Exactly.

 

 

I'm too tired to talk about why GMO's are kinda worrisome.  

Offhand because a lot of the genes inserted are so they can hose the stuff down with glyphosate weedkiller.

That and novel food allergy issues.

 

It's not so much attack of the killer GMO tomatoes, as " Hey, we're doing this and not testing it thoroughly first. "

 

Agreed.

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