Science fiction-y coolness

Since we moved to the new flat, I have not read a newspaper. This isn’t a huge loss (except in the mornings when coffee and toast and marmalade are being partaken of), because there’s always the internet. It seems my internet reading is incomplete though, because I knew nothing about this until a friend’s mother gave me a paper bag today made from a copy of The Telegraph from last month.

The company, Oxitec, said it can decimate mosquito populations by breeding genetically modified male mosquitoes, then releasing them to mate with wild females. Their offspring contain lethal genes that kill them young, before they can reproduce.

Oxitec’s technology is a variation of a proven process called “sterile insect technique,” which scientists have already used to eliminate the screwworm and the Mediterranean fruit fly from North America. It involves irradiating male insects, causing mutations that make them sterile. When released into the wild, they mate with females who then fail to reproduce.

5 Comments to “Science fiction-y coolness”

  1. Hey-like what you have to say on your blog. Some very interesting links! Anyway, I’ve tagged you with this meme to get to know you a little better. Just to let you know :)

  2. For a moment, I thought there was a feminist angle rant there, ideal for the Punkster. But mosquitos dying benefits all, no? so no angle, I guess.

  3. Don’t tell the government. Or someone will probably start thinking of this as a permanent cure for poverty.

  4. Lol, interesting post.

    Reading through the Wired link, Oxitec’s technology works by depriving mosquitoes of tetracycline (“Alphey discovered a way to genetically program the bugs to die unless they’re fed the common antibiotic tetracycline.”) As your title says, this is straight out of science fiction, or a bad movie.

    Also, the reason the “sterile insect technique” works is because the female mosquitoes mate only once. Let’s hope Darwinism doesn’t come up with a female mosquito that plays the field. :-)

  5. Wanderstruck – Thanks

    ??! – Well I could point out that if this was written as science fiction it would probably involve genetically engineered hot-but-barren seductresses victimising the men…

    b.jabberjee – in such a situation one could only comfort oneself with the government’s regular inefficiency.

    BP&SK – We are relying on mosquito monogamy for an end to dengue then. That can’t be good.

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