Not too long ago I posted a few articles about mosquitoes. One focused on the fact that despite other animals getting more media time, those pesky blood suckers kill more people per year than any other animal on the planet. In fact the numbers were not even close, I think they killed more than double than the next most dangerous animal and more that all the other animals combined including humans. Pretty alarming!
In that same article I also spoke about potentially killing every mosquitoes on the planet. Some researchers found that it could actually be a good thing as these bugs carry many diseases which are responsible for the deaths of countless thousands. They even made the claim that animals that regularly eat mosquitoes would not notice that their food source had disappeared, which I found rather bizarre, but I am sure this information came from “top” men so it must be true. I still think doing something that drastic to the ecosystem could have consequences that we could not foresee.
The other day I came across this article and was blown away at the practically and the science behind this. Take a look…
If you don’t want to read it the article basically talks about how there is a disease, dengue fever, in tropical climates that kills a lot of people each year. Scientist found a way to give mosquitoes a bacteria that will kill the critter that causes the fever. So basically these modified mosquitoes are carrying with them a possible “cure,” if you want to call it that, for this disease. That is pretty amazing!
Perhaps I am jumping the gun here and I more than likely am, but imagine if we could implement this technology to the fullest extent. I wonder if there could be a time in the future where humans use genetically modified mosquitoes and other things that bite to cure many of the third world diseases that kill thousands of people each year. Imagine if this Ebola outbreak could be cured by releasing a certain type of mosquito that was carrying with it the cure for the disease. I believe they would be far more effective at delivering immunization than trying to transport the vaccine to a remote location. Then there is the added risk of administering the vaccine, which would more than likely require some sort of professional on site, any volunteers?
I think this is really cool and opens a whole new can of worms for the future of medicine, most importantly in third world countries. The possibilities could be endless with this type of technology, but still I think there could be unforeseen consequences to the environment. Like what would happen if an animal eats this mosquito carrying a vaccine, how with that affect that bird or bat or whatever. Then what happens to the animal that eats it, so on and so forth. It could be a slippery slope but there is also a ton of potential here for the future.
I was thinking way down the road to someday when we have to leave this planet. There has always been talk about how we could terraform a planet to be like Earth. I have often thought for a while that this could be the easiest way. Insects are some of the most rugged and diverse animal species on the planet. I have often heard rumors that Twinkes and Cock Roaches would be the only thing to survive the Nuclear Holocaust. I don’t know if that is true but they are persistent little things that can survive almost anywhere. Not to mention I think they could easily survive a long trip through space. So if we could create some super worms (picture of a super genetically modified worm above left), some super bacteria, and a few other things, I think that would be the easiest way to terraform an alien planet. The bacteria could pump tons and tons of oxygen into an environment creating a breathable atmosphere for humans and other animals, the worms could create a rich soil for planting trees and crops. I think this process would take quite a while, but if the worms and bacteria were modified to then the process could be sped up. I do not know if that is even possible but I think in the most general sense scientist can modify the simplest bacteria and other simple multi-celled organisms. So maybe making Mars a second Earth is not as far off as possible.
Just something to think about…