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Brazilians Welcome Genetically-Modified Mosquito To Help Fight Dengue Fever

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.

Medicine 137

An anonymous reader writes "The Brazilian government have decided to try battling the spread of dengue fever with GM mosquitoes. 'Now, with dengue endemic in three of the host cities for this summer's World Cup , Brazilian health officials are trying a radical new approach — biotechnology. They've begun a two-year trial release of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified. "We need to provide the government alternatives because the system we are using now in Brazil doesn't work," says Aldo Malavasi, president of Moscamed, the Brazilian company that's running the trial from a lab just outside of Jacobina. The new breed of Aedes aegypti has been given a lethal gene. The deadly flaw is kept in check in the lab, but the mosquitoes soon die in the wild.'"

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What could possibly go wrong (-1)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | about 6 months ago | (#46856831)

Death gene. mosquitoes, mosquitoes bite human with death gene. Something tells me dengue is the least of our problems

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 6 months ago | (#46856837)

yeah, like a itching rash by the bite

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 6 months ago | (#46856883)

Hmmm, I can just imagine how the "death gene" conversation goes.

So, where did you get the gene from?

Ebola.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46858137)

That would still be fine, as Ebola only killed ~2k people in total, while dengue kills 25k per year.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 6 months ago | (#46856869)

It's OK, they are building little Voight-Kampff test machines to weed them out if necessary.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about 6 months ago | (#46856881)

It's not a death gene, it is a genetically engineered mosquito that dies, subtle but huge difference. I'd be more concerned with the consequences of killing off a species of mosquito, especially when the one they're targeting isn't the only one carrying the dengue. From TFA:

Phil Lounibous, an insect ecologist at the University of Florida, says getting rid of Aedes aegypti won’t necessarily solve the dengue problem.

“The so-called Asian Tiger mosquito is (also) very abundant all throughout Brazil,” Lounibous says, “and it ... is also a vector of dengue.”

But Oxitec says Aedes aegypti is by far the biggest source of dengue fever, and that reducing its population would be a huge advance for human health.

Classis Big-Corp logic: we can solve this problem (kind of) - so we have to insist that this problem is the one we need to solve in order to solve that other problem (and get paid).

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856963)

Just wait until the politicians get hold of this. They'll provide the medicine to keep the "death gene" in check until you oppose them. Then magically all your medicine will dry up.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (5, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | about 6 months ago | (#46857059)

What could go wrong? I don't know, maybe a disease that kills 22 thousand [cdc.gov] people? Sorry developing country kids, you gotta die, but hey, at least you don't have to worry about something that might somehow be even worse, like the dangers of unknown consequences, in other words, I don't have an actual argument, but I do have the first world heebie-jeebies, so here's a non-falsifiable appeal to ignorance. Try not to die of hemorrhagic fever while I vacuously muse about precaution from my overpriced organic café. Man, I'm glad you 'What could possibly go wrong' people weren't around when some crazy dude tried fighting disease by injecting people with dead viruses.

I'm not an entomologist, nor an ecologist, but I do recognize the standard MO among genetic engineering opposition, and this looks like the same horse shit type of opposition we see when dealing with genetically engineered crops, so unless someone can give me an actual reason (no, Jurassic Park doesn't count) as to why this is not worth trying, I fail to see the problem with this.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857299)

this looks like the same horse shit type of opposition we see when dealing with genetically engineered crops

Hi Monsanto employee #5612!

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857355)

Whenever someone brings up a point an environmentalist is unable to refute, immediately the environmentalists will immediately accuse the poster of being a corporate shill. Congratulations ChromeAeonium, you have won the debate.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46857379)

horse shit type of opposition

We call them organic farmers around here, since they'd probably mind being called the way you call them. :-)

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about 6 months ago | (#46857451)

22 thousand *per year*.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857563)

radio lab did a story in the GM Mosquitos a few weeks ago.
http://www.radiolab.org/story/kill-em-all/

1) they only release males (don't bite people)
2) larvae from these mosquitoes require an extra chemical to mature. The adult males live a "full" life fertilizing as many females as possible. The females that mate do in fact lay fertilized eggs and invest their energy in that, but do not know that the final result is failure.
3) mosquitos have a lifespan of a few weeks, so the GM ones all die out very quickly after soaking up the available females of the current generation
4) has been used with great effect in urban areas to eradicate the mosquito population in a less than a dozen generations.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46859323)

But what happens to everything else that eats the mosquitoes? What's the chance of the gene jumping species and wiping a bunch of other things out? How about a some of the eggs being laid in enough of the extra chemical (they're probably throwing some of the stuff out) to start a new breed of mosquitoes? I'm looking forward to the first "bitten by mosquito, turns into zombie" movie. I'd prefer if they setup more laser traps.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 6 months ago | (#46859603)

'Unable to have viable offspring' is a gene that's not likely to spread uncontrolled.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

jittles (1613415) | about 6 months ago | (#46857671)

What could go wrong? I don't know, maybe a disease that kills 22 thousand [cdc.gov] people? Sorry developing country kids, you gotta die, but hey, at least you don't have to worry about something that might somehow be even worse, like the dangers of unknown consequences, in other words, I don't have an actual argument, but I do have the first world heebie-jeebies, so here's a non-falsifiable appeal to ignorance. Try not to die of hemorrhagic fever while I vacuously muse about precaution from my overpriced organic café. Man, I'm glad you 'What could possibly go wrong' people weren't around when some crazy dude tried fighting disease by injecting people with dead viruses.

I'm not an entomologist, nor an ecologist, but I do recognize the standard MO among genetic engineering opposition, and this looks like the same horse shit type of opposition we see when dealing with genetically engineered crops, so unless someone can give me an actual reason (no, Jurassic Park doesn't count) as to why this is not worth trying, I fail to see the problem with this.

Used to live down there in dengue country. I am definitely concerned about what the potential outcome is. I can't tell you how many times I've been sprayed in the face by pesticide trucks, too, while walking down the street. It's a pretty nasty disease. However, the last time Brazilians let a lab experiment [wikipedia.org] out in the wild, it caused all sorts of unintended consequences (yesI Know this was an accident). I am not saying this is as likely to happen, but do we know for sure how these mosquitoes will be once they breed in the wild? Or are they only releasing females, and if so, will they all die before becoming sexually mature?

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46858459)

The AC directly above your comment provides an excellent answer.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46860173)

based on?

Re: give me an actual reason (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 6 months ago | (#46857673)

Reversing the "what could possibly go wrong" sentiment, this particular article is noticeably short of the backing science paper for the detail hounds to pore over. The meager analysis presented is too simple - "so if this species dies, another one will just step up the food chain", like maybe that Asian Tiger Mosquito. So then just rinse and repeat a second time. "Kill all the mosquitoes and we win."

Unlike things like the Africanized Killer Bee, which as I understand it was greed gone wrong, there's a life and death upside to winning this attempt, so I'm being careful with my words. So straight up, what *could* possibly go wrong? My best guess is something like knocking a hole in the ecology chain and getting unlucky that we did three rounds, celebrated a couple years of victory, and then discovering that mosquito eating bats are in trouble and then damaging the balance of ecology with whatever eats those or something.

But the snark question is also a fast shorthand for containability risk. Unlike a problem say with a temporary dominance of destructive wolves, making a mistake with insects could be really hard to fix.

Re: give me an actual reason (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46857899)

A better parallel would be how the widespread use of insecticides in the US opened up ecological niches to the infamous fire ant, paving the way for the very rapid spread of the species.

Re: give me an actual reason (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46857947)

then discovering that mosquito eating bats are in trouble and then damaging the balance of ecology with whatever eats those or something.

Yes, there is definitely the butterfly effect that we kindof have to worry about but we've unintentionally (or intentionally) wrecked alot more
havoc on the environment with invasive species, etc... This at least has the potential to save a lot of lives. Personally I wouldn't
really mind if the mosquito went the way of the dodo. I'll take my chances. We obviously know how to breed them in captivity so
if something really bad did happen and we caught it in time then it's possible we could reintroduce them if necessary but other than
just saying "something really bad might happen" I have never heard even a halfway plausible story of how this can actually happen.
There are a few invasive species that have had unintended consequences but they are all pretty managable.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857771)

I get what you are saying and understand the stakes are high here. I'm not trying to say they shouldn't proceed in this particular case, nor am I trying to say that you don't understand the problems this line of thinking in everything. However, there are a lot of people that don't get it.

There is real merit to the precautionary principle when there are plausible mechanisms for harm and/or large unknowns. How about drug effects of developing fetuses (e.g., thalidomide)? Heavy metal poisoning from poor industrial waste practices (e.g., Trail BC's lead smelter)? Accumulation of toxins that can't be biologically disposed of (e.g., PCBs)? Positive void coefficient nuclear reactors? Nanotech particles?

Unfortunately, if there is a problem, proof of it will come too late.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 6 months ago | (#46858917)

Your post is a mix of insight and shortsightedness. Yes, undefined FUD is not helpful, but neither is dismissing possible unintended consequences. What happens when it turns out that the Asiatic Tiger mosquito is a more successful vector of dengue, but was kept in check by the Aedes aegypti?

FUD should not be vague, but neither should the contingency planning / risk analysis. "Who cares about the consequences, kids are dying" is not a valid plan of action/

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46860137)

Well, it's clear you are not an entomologist or ecologist or you would know that mosquitos are important pollinators and play crucial roles in the food chain.

But hey why let facts get in the way of doing the exact same thing you are accusing others of, mainly talking out of your ass from your high horse.

and seriously slashdot, +5 insightful? Are only the idiots left?

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46860165)

The killer bee problem we have now seems to be a pretty good argument. Brazil brought us that in 1957.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857343)

Fuck you. I'm glad you're just a basement dweller with no power to influence public policy in Brazil.

I had dengue, and I know how much of a problem this disease is. I hope you get infected with it. Perhpaps then you'll think twice about dismissing a good strategy for controlling the disease with zombie-movie based arguments.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 6 months ago | (#46857375)

This isn't Spiderman. You don't gain "death" by being bitten by mosquitoes with a "death gene".

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46857973)

Of course not. You gain the power of death.

Not how natural selection works (0)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#46856859)

The Brazilian government has authorized the two-year trial. The hope is that the male GM mosquitos will mate with wild females and produce offspring that will die before they can reproduce .

If they die off within one generation.... then females that didn't mate with the male GM females will survive and reproduce.

The GM whizzes should be engineering mosquitos that still manage to reproduce together and with non-GM females and have offspring that don't bite humans but still reproduce.

Also, they should compete favorably against non-GM mosquitos for mating purposes. The mosquitos should carry bacteria that will destroy non-GM mosquito larvae

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

axlash (960838) | about 6 months ago | (#46856905)

Even better would be if they could engineer mosquitoes whose *grandchildren* (or great grandchildren) would be sterile, further maximising the damage.

Re:Not how natural selection works (0)

Cenan (1892902) | about 6 months ago | (#46856931)

Even better would be if they spent all that time curing the dengue fever and then left the mosquito alone.

Re:Not how natural selection works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856957)

Right, because humanity can only do one thing at a time. Besides, if this works and is ported to other mosquitoes it could help many poor nations. Or things could take a turn for the awesome and it will create zombies.

Re:Not how natural selection works (5, Insightful)

Chikungunya (2998457) | about 6 months ago | (#46856973)

At least 100 more resources are being used for dengue than for mosquitoes, unfortunately for dengue having "near perfect" protection (the normal situation for all other vaccines) is not only not effective, it actually produces a worse disease. For better or worse controlling dengue is going to take a few more billions and at least one more decade. Also, you control the mosquito and you control several diseases at the same time.

The problem in this case is not so much the danger of the genetic manipulation (the approach seem to be based in minimizing risk) but seen how effective it is really going to be in a large scale situation. People worry much more about this being a waste of money than a danger to the ecology.

Also, the process specifically make the females produced by this males to become sterile so for one part you will get slowly more and more gene-carrier males competing for the healthy females (that will be less and less frequent) in every generation, it will have the extra merit of making the affected females less prone to bite so the risk to humans dimish.

Anyway, the good thing is that this approach affects only a single species of mosquito so even if this goes out of control you have very few risk to the ecology, compared with other much more risky trials (like those done with the Wolbachia parasite in Australia) this seems to be relatively safe.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46860237)

satyrization.

nothing affects only one species.

Do you not know what happened to these kissing cousins in the states?

Re:Not how natural selection works (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856975)

or if you must tinker with genes, you could engineer a mosquito that cannot carry dengue fever...

Re:Not how natural selection works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857129)

That would be a quite a few more orders of magnitude more difficult than inserting a gene that causes sterility. In fact genetically engineering an immune system to be inherently immune to one particular strain of virus would be quite a feat of science.

But we know the true reason you are posted is because you are more worried about the loss of mosquito life than of human life.

Re:Not how natural selection works (4, Funny)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 6 months ago | (#46857051)

Humans are the reservoir for dengue in the western hemisphere, so naturally efforts should be focused on elminating this reservoir in the more southern parts of the area before the disease is able to spread to the more important countries north of Mexico.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 6 months ago | (#46858675)

Humans are the reservoir for dengue in the western hemisphere, so naturally efforts should be focused on elminating this reservoir in the more southern parts of the area before the disease is able to spread to the more important countries north of Mexico.

Too lat.e You can already get Dengue in Texas!

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857097)

By your logic we should have never constructed sewers to control the spread of dysentery and cholera, and instead focused on treating the diseases instead. Or perhaps we should never use condoms and instead spend more money on treating STDs.

Basic management of epidemic disease also includes reducing the vectors that spread the infection and it is MUCH cheaper than treating the disease.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 6 months ago | (#46857117)

Disagree and I can't wait for the blood suckers to be irradiated everywhere!

Yes yes I know, don't mess with a balanced ecosystem.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#46859267)

Or how about a mosquito where only female progeny die. Males are born normally and survive.... leading to a runaway skew in their populations.

Re:Not how natural selection works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856951)

Wow, you should patent those ideas!

captcha: bumble

Re:Not how natural selection works (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857067)

The GM whizzes should be engineering mosquitos that still manage to reproduce together and with non-GM females and have offspring that don't bite humans but still reproduce.

Good idea! Or how about this one - make some that do bite, but the bite leaves a dose of polio vaccine! Or how about the modified mosquitos all get together and deliver milk to starving babies! What is wrong with these "whizzes"? I'm just another buffoon on Slashdot and yet I can come up with a better solution in just two minutes tun these people who have been "studying" the problems and supposedly "understand" it so much more than I do!

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 months ago | (#46857361)

Also, they should compete favorably against non-GM mosquitos for mating purposes.

That's going to be hard, take one blood source away and still be competitive.

Instead, they could make GM mosquitoes that are unsuitable as carriers for the Dengue virus. You'd still get stung by them, but at least you're less likely to catch crippling diseases.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46858011)

...great, but they'd still have to make the non-Dengue mosquitoes win out over the regular 'ol Dengue mosquitoes somehow.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 6 months ago | (#46858153)

The question of the viability here is how much of a blood source are humans. If we are an insignificant source, then it's not a big deal.

Re:Not how natural selection works (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46860273)

Why gm something that already exists? You know how many species of mosquito there are?

Zombies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856865)

This is how it starts!

Life will find a way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856873)

Just sayin.

Re:Life will find a way (2, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46856955)

Just sayin.

Yep. Came here to say the same thing. These mosquitoes are engineered to die. Thus, if they're released into the wild most of them will die but the ones who don't die will survive and pass on these resistant genes to their offspring and bringing a new scourge upon the Earth: Immortal mosquitoes.

At least have a contingency plan: A compulsion to lop each other's heads off with tiny little swords while buzzing, "There can beeee only None!"

Re:Life will find a way (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about 6 months ago | (#46856969)

I wish I had mod points. You, sir, won the thread.

Re:Life will find a way (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46858061)

There's no "resistant gene" here.

They're just releasing a bunch of semi-sterile males. They can make babies, but those babies never hatch, and it wastes the reproductive cycles of the female mosquitoes.

We've been doing this regularly since the 1950's. This is nothing new except something for dolts to moan on about Monsanto.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Life will find a way (-1, Troll)

ichthus (72442) | about 6 months ago | (#46859887)

Yeah, you hear that everybody? If you're not privy to insect population control techniques (I mean, who doesn't discuss this topic regularly at dinner parties?), or you disapprove of Monsanto, you're a dolt. A DOLT! Mythosaz has you all on notice, and it's a good thing we have people like him or her to keep us all in check.

So, stop being *cough* dolts, and educate yourselves.

Jurasic Park? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856899)

Anyone? Does the bell rings?

Gib cure pls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856903)

I report u
Hue hue hue hue

3rd world drug funded shit hole makes GM mosquitos (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856937)

I'm glad i live in a cold climate far away from this idea

Re:3rd world drug funded shit hole makes GM mosqui (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857257)

You represent the epitome of modern environmentalism. "I've got mine, Fuck you!". You leftist greens thought that attitude was limited only to Libertarians?

If this were in your neighborhood, you'd be have the government blanketing your neighborhood with DDT because you are a special snowflake that should get the all the safety and convenience of modern civilization. Those brown people who live below the equator however, let them die in their mud huts because them having the same privileges you do is not sustainable for the planet!

Re:3rd world drug funded shit hole makes GM mosqui (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46860277)

You represent the epitome of modern environmentalism. "I've got mine, Fuck you!". You leftist greens thought that attitude was limited only to Libertarians?

or its a world away, already a go, out of my control and i can just take comfort in the fact that i live far away and likely wont see any mosquitoes hearty enough to make it up here

If this were in your neighborhood, you'd be have the government blanketing your neighborhood with DDT because you are a special snowflake that should get the all the safety and convenience of modern civilization.

actually i feel people should harden the fuck up and stop expecting governments to shelter them from life, and i think releasing genetically modified animals into the wild especially under the questionable supervision of one of the most corrupt nations on earth is a bad idea.

Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46856987)

They engineered it so the mosquito can't produce the amino-acid lysine, and thus has to receive it through it's lab-provided food.

I hope they succeed (3, Insightful)

SirAdelaide (1432553) | about 6 months ago | (#46857017)

This is a great idea, and illustrates the benefits of science to help improve the world. Ecosystems around human habitations aren't natural to start with, and we have every right to mess them up for our benefit.

Also from the article:

For his part, Moscamed’s Aldo Malavasi gets impatient with critics from rich countries.

“Dengue is a problem in poor countries, in Latin America, Africa and Asia,” Malavasi says. “I don’t care about Europeans. I don’t care about you gringos. I care to help the people in Africa, Latin America and Asia.”

That is the sort of practical attitude we need to solve the problems of poor countries. Less hand wringing, more action, with adaptive management of any issues that arise.

For what it's worth, I have a bachelor's degree in science with a double major in ecology, and a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. I work as a civil engineer providing water supplies rather than as an ecologist because there's no/hardly any money in science, so I might have a different point of view than more pure scientists. As far as I'm concerned, the reason to care about the environment is because we live in it. We should protect or change the environment as we see fit to benefit the most number of people. That's why we dam rivers, clear land, make farms, build cities, and protect endangered animals; it's all to improve quality of life for humans. Until mosquitoes become endangered, we should kill as many as we can.

Not the first time (3, Informative)

Pallas Athena (2855215) | about 6 months ago | (#46857023)

Well, as the previous exercise [wikipedia.org] with creating and releasing a new subspecies in Brazil was such a big success, let's repeat it. What could go wrong?

Re:Not the first time (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46858089)

You're right. It's not the first time. We've been releasing sterile males into insect populations for 60 years with great success. This is just another story to make errmagarghd, monsanto! types get all grumpy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Slashdot and science (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857041)

When did the Slashdot audience start to diverge so much from understanding science? The "death-gene" and GM misunderstandings fuelling the discussion here is like reading an intelligent design forum. And you see the same anti-science/science-ignorance tendency in other science-related areas (GM debates in general, climate change, etc.). Is this part of the general anti-science sentiment we see growing in US, or is there a change in Slashdot audience (I've been lurking here forever, and it really wasn't this science-ignorant before).

Re:Slashdot and science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857083)

What you are seeing are libertarians that are anti-science when it comes to global warming, evolution, and origin of the cosmos. Then you are seeing liberals in both the USA and Europe who believe in science when it comes to global warming, evolution, and origin of the cosmos, but reject it on matters of GMOs, vaccines, modern pharmaceuticals, fracking, nuclear energy, RF radiation, and will trot out the argument from nature fallacy every chance they get.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 months ago | (#46857521)

Computers have become simple enough for anyone to use, allowing people completely ignorant about logic and technology to read and comment here on Slashdot. Look, I do not intend at any time here being "elitist"... But at the same time that the "digital revolution" allowed access to the masses, also allowed access to the modern caveman.

Re:Slashdot and science (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46857539)

Judging by the time on the posts, I'd say that this is more the European anti-science bias. People everywhere love their pseudoscience. In the US it tends to take the creationist stance most of the time, and in Europe anti-GM is all the rage. You will of course find examples of all forms of pseudoscience everywhere, but everybody has their preference.

Standby for accusations that I must work for Monsanto, or whatever big corporate conspiracy is supposed to be trying to deceive our kids with the evils of evolution.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46857645)

With the exception of a few isolated Waconian compounds, religious influence on science will continue to wane as information and education continue their spread. The goal here should not be to bring every last pocket of resistance in developed countries to the table, but to bring science, personal freedoms, and education to the parts of the World where God-Belief is still ubiquitous.

.

The blanket objection to genetically-modified anything is pervasive in even otherwise intelligent citizens, and these blokes are not limited to Europe. I blame the health food industry. They jump on every bandwagon that comes along. Don't get me wrong, I do prefer my produce be as free of pesticides as possible and my meat unladen with antibiotics, but folks unwilling to do their own thinking instinctively believe everything in the store must be good for you. The stores exploit this.

Pseudoscience is only the enemy if it is growing and not shrinking, and it is expected to linger a while in a tribe of recently ill-informed and superstitious primates.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46858361)

No doubt marketing plays a role. The last thing ANYBODY wants you to do is consider the facts. People making junk food don't want you to think about whether junk food is bad for you. People who sell $5 apples don't want you to think about the fact that no studies really show that they're any better for you than the 50 cent apples.

You're supposed to be a good consumer and do what the ads tell you to. That easily translates into doing what your pastor, friend, celebrity on TV tells you to.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46858819)

I think at least a large portion of the opposition to GMOs has little to do with being anti-science, in fact let me offer some largely pro-science opposition.
1) Agricultural GMOs tend to be created by large corporations openly trying to get a lock on the agricultural industry. That's a politically dangerous proposition.
2) Agricultural GMOs tend to create an monoculture with a very small gene pool - leaving them incredibly vulnerable to plague, and us to the resulting famine.
3) Biology is *complicated*. We're still largely at the trial-and-error stage of understanding all the ways in which genes interact with each other, ditto the complicated interactions of an uncontrolled ecology. That we'll eventually unintentionally create something that causes problems is a near-certainty - every major new technology has a few "oops" moments.
4) Unlike any previous technology, GMOs are self-replicating organsims we're intentionally trying to get well established in an uncontrolled outdoor environment. Any problematic organism will likely completely escape our control long before we even realize there's a problem, unless they have multiple independent "death genes" to ensure they can't spread in the wild, even if they hybridize with another species. (Sounds like these mosquitoes have one anyway, much better than nothing).

Re:Slashdot and science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46859001)

1) source?
2) how is that different than non-GMO?
3) FUD
4) And this hasn't happened already with non-GMO stuff? (Killer bees anyone?)

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46860265)

1) seriously? Go check any source actually monitoring the legal and legislative maneuverings of Monsanto, etc.

2) How many genetically distinct wheat plants do you suppose there were at the smallest chokepoint in the history of wheat domestication? How many slight variations in genes are within the population because of the size of that number? Now how do you suppose that compares to the number of genetically distinct plants present in the laboratory choke-point when Monsanto created its latest strain? That lack of variety means there is far less immune system variation in the population, meaning it is far more likely that the disease that cripples one plant will cripple the entire population. Also, how many different cultivars of corn do you suppose there are? Different genetic groups optimized for different environments?. Now, when Monsanto comes along with it's insect repellant super-yielding corn that is far more profitable in all those different environments, how much genetic diversity has just been lost in the global corn industry? Of course this isn't a problem new to GMOs, but they exacerbate it badly.

3) FUD? Absolutely. But well informed FUD. Ask any preeminent ecologist or biologist how well we *really* understand the details of their field of expertise. They'll all freely admit that our understanding is still in it's early stages, and the unanswered questions far outweigh the answers we've found so far, to say nothing of the questions we don't yet know to ask. Ask *anyone* how likely it is that any industry can maintain a perfect track record indefinitely. It would be a world first. And a biotech disaster could make Chernobyl look like a confetti gun.

4) Oh certainly it has, which is exactly why it' so scary. We see the impossibility of stopping invasive species all the time - if we accidentally create something particularly dangerous we won't be able to recapture it. I'll freely admit this is the frankenstein's monster fear, but it is has a solid base. There was that plant (corn?) recently that manufactured it's own insecticide. Apparently harmless to humans in the limited testing done, but once it entered production it was discovered that a certain small percentage of the population had an allergy to it. Suppose the effect had been more subtle - as happened with lead. Children raised eating it develop lower intelligence, increased aggressiveness, and less impulse control as adults. So, 20-30 years later we realize that this global surge in violent crime is due to the corn and immediately discontinue using it, replacing it with a new, safer strain. Except that the "bad corn" is in the wild as well, and it keeps pollinating the "good corn", resulting in possibly contaminated grain, and certainly the inability to replant using last years seed. Bad enough for the wealthy world, but what of those in the most impoverished areas, who cannot afford to buy fresh seed every year?

Re:Slashdot and science (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46857615)

I've been lurking here forever, and it really wasn't this science-ignorant before

No, contrary to your memory, it's pretty much always been this way. Outside of computer related topics and specific geek topics (Monty Python, or game trivia for example), Slashdot in general isn't very much smarter or more knowledgeable than any other random Joe. Moat days, we're lucky and the moderation system produces a thin facade of not being so, but not always.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46857921)

Is this part of the general anti-science sentiment we see growing in US, or is there a change in Slashdot audience

Excellent question. IMHO it's a conscience decision by Dice to stir up debate with the goal of getting more traffic. Many of the hot topics have nothing to do with News for Nerds (how many threads did we see related to Zimmerman/Martin? how many did we see related to Occupy Wall Street?), Once the door is opened to screaming about politics it slops over into every thread.

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46858117)

It's not a change so much in the /. audience. It's a change in the minds of the /. editors to post everything they think will get page hits -- and then the idiots follow.

The front page is probably a year away from "One Secret Trick, 99% of Linux Users Don't Know!"

Re:Slashdot and science (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | about 6 months ago | (#46857983)

It started happening once 6-digit IDs started going out.

Re:Slashdot and science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46859295)

Welcome, Monsanto shill! I see what you did there; a subtle attempt at a strawman to be sure...

If it's 10:36 here what time is it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857073)

in the philipines, but not a DST/STD time but a time that it will be come August 31st of this year?

Precautionary principle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857077)

I don't think we should try anything new because something bad may happen. /sarc

Bite each other (3, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 months ago | (#46857103)

We need to engineer mosquitos that are allergic to humans and which will rather bite each other. That would be a great way to get revenge for thousands of years of human itching and scratching.

Re:Bite each other (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857187)

This is how the zombie apocalypse will start.

The only good mosquitoes (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#46857137)

were made of wood, and had two Merlin engines

Re:The only good mosquitoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46858789)

they have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops!

Update of the Sterile Insect Technique (5, Informative)

Guppy (12314) | about 6 months ago | (#46857139)

A brief primer -- this is a modern twist on the Sterile Insect Technique [wikipedia.org] that has been used since the 1950's to control the Screw-worm fly, and other insect pests [wikipedia.org] .

While the screw-worm's life-cycle was almost tailor-made to work with this technique (females only mate once in a lifetime; large numbers of insects can easily bred in the laboratory; sterilizing doses of radiation do not significantly cripple the males' ability to compete for mates; the males can self-distribute over a wide range), this technique proved to be harder to apply to mosquitoes (else we would have been doing it in the 1950's) -- while a few mosquito species could be controlled with this technique, irradiated Anopheles males suffered from too large a fitness drop to be effective.

Genetic engineering allows us to side-step male fitness problems that occur with radiation sterilization of mosquitoes, and improves the reliability of sterilizing large batches of reliably and efficiently.

Re:Update of the Sterile Insect Technique (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#46858619)

Genetic engineering allows us to side-step male fitness problems that occur with radiation sterilization of mosquitoes

Not to mention the obvious and inevitable creation of a sub-species of mutant super-mosquitoes with human-surpassing intelligence and a wide variety of super powers via the well-known Stan Lee Effect. Luckily, even if we do create such a sub-species they'll have a motivation to keep us around as food animals, but it'd be better to avoid the risk.

They made a movie about that story 17 years ago (1)

Doub (784854) | about 6 months ago | (#46857155)

Hopefully it doesn't end that bad: Mimic [imdb.com] .

finally annoying pop-up ADs on /. phewww (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857171)

click away with captcha banners in play, more tornadoes again today http://www.youtube.com/results... [youtube.com] hola

Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857399)

...will find a way.

Re:Life (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 6 months ago | (#46857457)

Apart from the ones that go extinct.

This is a terrible idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857441)

Don't forget, Brazil gave the world the Africanized Honey Bee - dubbed "killer bees" by the media. I for one worry that this GMO mosquito will have unplanned for consequences, just like the AHB, which was created to increase honey production but instead they transferred the "holy crap I have to defend the hive" genes. By the way, as a beekeeper, I can attest - not only does the AHB not make more honey (usually it's less) than the more tame European Honey Bee, but damn are they aggressive!

Headline in 10 years: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857489)

Mutated Brazilians with tentacles no longer welcome in EU zone.

GM politicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857535)

So they won't take money from GM and companies ??

How about a mosquito that has dengue fever proteins in the saliva? Get bit, get immune.

It's been used already... (1)

your_neighbor (1193249) | about 6 months ago | (#46857541)

in NE Brazil.
The bloodsucking role is with the female mosquitos. But to reproduce, they need a male... at this point, they supply a gene defective adult male mosquito, in great numbers. If you stop with the supply, the population will restore. But while you are supplying, the population drops a lot.

I prefer this method than the smoke one, which is smelly, uneffective and fuck our swimming pool.

I, for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46857693)

welcome our genetically modified...

nevermind

Zombie apocalypse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46858385)

Do the Mosquitos reanimate after a certain amount of time? And so begins the zombie apocalypse. Each animal or human bitten by the zombie Mosquitos then becomes a zombie. Queue the Walking Dead theme music...

Crazy (0)

DarthVain (724186) | about 6 months ago | (#46858585)

Call me crazy, but logically, wouldn't it make more sense to GM the humans resistance to dengue, than to mess with GM insects and the base of ecology?

However one is clearly blasphemous and wrong, and the other is a fantastic idea. Clearly this makes sense. Anyway in terms of world impact, and direct intervention, it would make sense.

Anyway I always approach the topic with caution, as best intentions and unintended consequences etc...

What could possible go wrong.... (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 6 months ago | (#46858929)

Oh crap! [imdb.com]

Killer bees a gift to Americas from Brasil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46859189)

Due to the incompetence of Brazilian scientists in the 1950s killer bees from Africa were releases in the wild. They gradually spread North and can be found in abundance in North America.

When there are complex ecosystems which no one truly comprehends introducing a GM plant or animals can have serious unintended consequences. On paper the Geeks that came up with the Mosquito think everything is fine and dandy but do we really understand? GM crops are safe was the message sent out by the industry and now there are cases which aren't what the Monsanto and other companies expected.

Finally there was a time were DDT and other chemicals were lauded as the savior of humanity. And yes very smart scientists of that period confidently assured all these chemicals were safe.

Frankenskeeter (1)

Toad-san (64810) | about 6 months ago | (#46859849)

Remember, you read that word here first!

Sure are a lot of "nerds" in here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46860027)

who don't know a god damned thing about genetics.

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