GM mosquitoes can put end to Zika: Why don’t people trust them?

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The mosquito-borne Zika virus is terrifying expectant parents from Brazil to Mexico to the Caribbean. About 29 percent of infected pregnant women have borne a baby with a serious birth defect. Can anything be done to stop its spread? Yes, if environmental activists stop blocking the use of pesticides and launching mandatory labeling campaigns and other scare tactics to stigmatize genetically modified organisms.

Ironically enough, it is the mother of the modern environmental movement who may have long ago offered up a potential the solution to the Zika problem – genetically modified mosquitoes.

In her 1962 book “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson reported on the novel work of USDA scientist Dr. Edward Knipling. “About a quarter century ago,” she wrote, “Dr. Knipling… theorized, [that] sterilized males would, under certain conditions, compete with normal wild males so successfully that, after repeated releases, only infertile eggs would be produced and the populations would die out.”

Made by British company Oxitec, genetically modified mosquito males, like all mosquito males, cannot bite humans. Only females do that. And these males die in just four days. In trials in the Cayman Islands, Brazil, Malaysia and Panama, mosquito infestations have declined by up to 90 percent.

In a recent TED talk, Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry rightly branded the mosquito “the world’s most dangerous animal.” Parry estimates the mosquito’s death toll throughout history exceeds all wars and plagues. So what’s not to like about this new application of the Knipling principle? As it turns out, for some, plenty.

Read full, original post: Technology can save us from Zika

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