Mosquitoes kill about 1 million humans each year! This makes them the dealiest living thing for humans on the planet.
In a particular region of the United States, though Aedes aegypti account for only about 4% of the total mosquito population, the species caused 70 cases of dengue fever in the last year. These mosquiotes can also carry Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever causing microorganisms. Local authorities are not able to control their population with pesticides anymore.
British biotechnology firm, Oxitec, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is currently executing a novel method of controlling the disease-causing mosquito population in Florida.
Oxitec is realeasing thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes into the area in an experiment that is novel for the United States.
The Aim of The Experiment
Only female mosquitoes bite and cause diseases. The gentically modified mosquito batches being released are all male. All these male mosquitoes have been altered such that when they mate with another wild female mosquito only their male eggs will hatch and live to adulthood. The new female mosquitoes will die out before reaching the adult phase.
So, over the course of a few months, as the mosquito generations keep dying and hatching, the number of female Aedes aegypti, disease causing insects, will reduce and this will lead to the end of their entire population.
The insects also have been given a gene that fluoresces under certain lights. This will allow scientists to easily identify and track descendants of the altered mosquitoes.
There has been a debate over genetically modified food and animals since the technology was invented. Those who oppose the use of genetic modification say that we are meddling with nature and that we don't know the actual consequences of such experiments.