Genetically Modified Mosquitos

mosquitoAvant-garde chemists and geneticists facilely fiddle with Nature. Alas, like Gustav Mahler’s tongue-in-cheek opinion of fellow German composer Anton Bruckner’s symphonies, these reckless scientists are “half idiot, half God.”

After a decade of work, British biotech firm Oxitec released genetically modified mosquitos in Brazil in 2013, hoping to reduce mosquito-borne diseases via mosquitos whose 1st-generation offspring would be infertile. Oxitec claimed that the gene mod would not get into the general population because offspring would die.

The plan backfired. Oxitec instead created a resilient hybrid as the new gene suffused into the local mosquito population – the worst possible outcome. To celebrate the failure and heighten the hazard, the Trump administration is letting Oxitec release genetically modified mosquitos in Florida and Texas.


Kelly Servick, “Study on DNA spread by genetically modified mosquitoes prompts backlash,” Science (17 September 2019).

Benjamin R. Evans et al, “Transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transfer genes into a natural population,” Scientific Reports (10 September 2019).

Genetically modified mosquitoes breed in Brazil,” DW (13 September 2019).