Scientists have created a transgenic mosquito engineered for malaria-resistance. According to this report in the Houston Chronicle
, lab tests have shown that the genetically modified mosquitoes "breed and compete more efficiently than natural mosquitoes, suggesting the modified, or transgenic, type could spread in the wild."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 350 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year, killing more than 1 million people.
Scientists and public health officials have looked toward genetically modified mosquitoes because, with a ban on the pesticide DDT, they have few other options in the developing world for controlling mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.
This story and others like it beg the question: Is there a role for the judicious application of genetic engineering, or is the possibility of unforeseen consequences simply too risky to be acceptable? And if we reject both DDT and transgenic skeeters, then what?