NYU ethicists: ‘Biologically’ modified mosquitoes should be deployed to fight Zika


[Arthur Caplan and Kelly Folkers are ethicists at New York University.]

Zika is here to stay as a highly dangerous warm-weather pest. The Zika virus can be detrimental to fetal development, which is why Congress passed a bill [in 2016] that dedicated funding to vaccine development and mosquito eradication efforts.

We have long known that we need to control mosquitoes…But our zeal to croak mosquitoes by spraying poisons all over our neighborhoods and ourselves did not end back then. Spraying insecticides is still the weapon of choice, even though it might be as dangerous to human health as the Zika virus itself.

There is a much greener, safer alternative. Ethically, we think Americans ought to embrace the release of biologically modified mosquitoes as the safest way to diminish the diseases that some mosquitoes cause.

If this safe, effective and green option is available, why aren’t we using it here and around the world? The answer is irrational fear of biological engineering. The fight over GMO food has spilled over to the battle against mosquitoes.

We have an opportunity to get ahead of future public health crises by shifting to biologically modified mosquito control. Fear of change and confusion over safe techniques for modifying nature when she is out to kill us should not leave us using last century’s technology to fight this century’s mosquito-borne diseases.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: We Need Other Options to Fight Zika

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