Death in the “MosquitoSphere”

Scientists genetically engineered a fungus from a spider gene to kill off mosquitoes, marking a promising new advance described in a Science paper published yesterday.

But this novel approach is not without controversy, sparking concern that the modified fungus could end up killing other organisms and interrupting ecosystems, NPR Goats and Soda reports. Nnimmo Bassey of the Nigeria-based Health of Mother Earth Foundation also worries “ …that Africans are the preferred guinea pigs for experimentation, and Africa is going to become a large laboratory for risky experimentation.”
The study mimicked conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria still has a strong foothold. The numbers of modified mozzies contained within a “MosquitoSphere” in Burkina Faso plummeted within weeks.
While malaria deaths in Africa are on the decline, and 38 countries have now been declared malaria-free, case numbers have barely budged since 2011 as insecticide resistance grows and funding declines, The Economist reports.

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