A billionaire is funding research into the genetic material of mosquitos. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. The billionaire’s name is not John Hammond and there’s no plan for a park full of dinosaurs quite yet.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in mosquito research. The goal is to create Franken-bugs that will eventually eliminate malaria. Using genetic modifications, the brain of Abby Normal, and the body of a mosquito – they have flipped the third switch, reversed the poles, and made a new breed.
But, seriously – what can the creature do? Because of its size and sex, it does not pose a threat to humans. There is no reason to fear the Franken-bug. Male mosquitos do not bite humans and the special gene that these insects carry will terminate any and all of their offspring, lowering the overall mosquito population.
We all hate mosquitos – they ruin a nice day out on the porch and are a bother on a hike, leaving you to battle itchy, red bites. That’s not to mention their transmission of malaria and other diseases. In total, mosquitos killed about 830,000 people in 2015.
Not everyone is thrilled about the project. “Friends of the Earth” warned the company behind the research, Oxitec, that there could be “ethical risks” involved in their work. But regardless of the warning, the modified swarm is expected to undergo field trials in 2020.