Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Babies, The Casualties Of GMO Fear

There are some real reasons why the creation of GMO's, genetically modified organisms, should be watched carefully.  But much of the fear of GMO's is emotional and unwarranted, and could seriously endanger us.  Here is an example.

There was once a problem with the "screwworm"
the screwworm, a particularly nasty insect that once caused millions of dollars of losses in the livestock industry, is instructive. Female screwworm flies lay eggs in open wounds of animals and humans. The larvae feed on the living flesh and attract more egg-laying females. If not treated, the animal dies.
This was a world-wide problem but it was solved by spreading males sterilized by radiation.
The impact was decisive. The last cases of screwworm in the United States were reported in 1982. By the end of 1985, most of Mexico was screwworm-free and the eradication program had moved on to Guatemala and Belize, now also free of the pest. This ranks as perhaps the greatest insect-control success story.
 We are now presented with an even more serious problem, mosquitoes spreading the Zika virus causing microcephaly in newborn babies.  This problem can be solved in the same way that the screwworm was eradicated.  And not only microcephaly in newborns, but dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, which are spreading into the Southern States as the planet warms up from climate change.

But that is not going to happen anytime soon because the method for sterilizing the male mosquitoes is by genetic modification.  The imaginary fear of GMO's has caused the government to put layers and layers of regulation in the way.
The released male mosquitoes have no effect on people because males don’t bite. While we might wait years for a Zika vaccine, the genetically modified mosquito is tested, scalable and ready to go.
And in the meantime, hundreds, perhaps thousands of babies will needlessly be born with microcephaly.