Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today in 'what could possibly go wrong?'

Mosquitos. Genetically engineered mosquitos with glowing red eyes might soon be breeding in the wild near you!
Pictured: gross. I mean, I know
it's natural, but still, eww...
I should explain. Scientists from the University of California at Irvine are using a gene editing technique called CRISPR to create mosquitos resistant to malaria. As for the glowing red eyes, they did that so they could tell them apart from the normal mosquitos. Cool right? But how are more mosquitoes the solution to malaria? I'm glad I pretended you asked, because in addition to being malaria-proof, these fancy new mosquitos will also have a modification that makes their genes spread faster, the idea being that in a few generations only these red-eyed abominations will be left.

Remember that shot? What
was up with that anyway?
That funny feeling in the pit of your stomach you've got right now? The one that feels like a combination of revulsion and terror at the idea of fiddling with the very source code of life itself and then unleashing the results upon an unsuspecting world? That's perfectly normal. If Jurassic Park has taught us anything it's that in the end, nature will find a way to fuck us over for our arrogance. Also, that that weird shot of Jeff Goldbloom with his shirt open just sticks with you, even decades later.

It would be alarmist to suggest that screwing with mosquitos could have dire and unforeseen consequences, but holy shit, what if this has dire and unforeseen consequences?
Above: Dire and unforeseen consequences.
After all the species we've driven
to extinction, what's one more?
The researchers assure us that the worst that can happen is that their modified bugs will simply be out bred by normal mosquitos, and they insist that our civilization probably won't be overrun by wave after wave of super-mosquitos, but that's not the same as a firm no. And altering another creature's genes for our own convince raises all sorts of ethical concerns. Ethical concerns that tend to evaporate the instant one of those little assholes bits you, but you know, ethical concerns...

On the other hand, malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people a year all around the world so maybe we should stifle our medieval fear of some divine retribution for meddling in God' creation and let the experts save some lives.
"Oh we take the public's ethical and religious concerns very seriously.
Let me assure you that we're being very careful not to offend God, wizards
or the
Easter Bunny. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some science to do."
-Some scientist

No comments:

Post a Comment