Parrotheads and Cabbage Heads

Parrotheads in the Florida Keys

Florida abuzz over plan to introduce “mutant mosquitos” to fight disease

Why do I feel like this headline belongs in The Onion instead of the Naples Daily Times?

This article gives me yet another reason to stop reading the paper.

There is a plan a-buzzing (sorry) to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in a residential neighborhood in the Florida Keys.

The point of this little experiment is to stop the spread of two “potentially deadly” skeeter-borne diseases – Dengue and Chikungunya.  Although Dengue can have a fatality rate of up to 10%, early recognition and action can reduce that to 1%. Chikungunya is considered non-fatal although some deaths have been “partly attributed” to the disease.  I’m sure neither one is a picnic.

Attempting to stop this spread is done by genetically modifying the mosquitoes so that their offspring don’t make it past the larval stage.  The project targets only male non-biting mosquitoes.  But the scientists cannot guarantee that a few of the girls might not sneak out and get wild as well.

These little beauties are being made with DNA fragments of cabbage and coral, as well as protein fragments from the herpes simplex virus and E. coli.

Hmm.  Good stuff. Why don’t we add some dirty syringes and oil residue then throw in a little mercury – frack it all up and see what we get then?

A-MAZ-ING-LY, 145000 guinea pigs people have already signed a petition protesting this plan.

What is wrong with these people?  Can’t they understand this is good for them?

The article was originally published in the Washington Post under the title:

“Why we should all hope to get bitten by a GMO mosquito”.

The author attempts to convince these resistant fools by explaining how the positives outweigh the negatives.  He lists them – I can’t tell the positives from the negatives myself – but I’m not that smart.

-This is not the first time genetically engineered mosquitoes have been released. That’s reassuring.

-I guess the mosquitoes are resistant to 4 out of 6 of the insecticides previously used to kill them.  ( I wonder how that happened?)

-Concerns about the ripple effect on the environment are “overblown.” After all, this particular mosquito is an invasive species anyway.

-These mosquitoes are, of course, headed for mainland Florida and will probably hitch rides up north with snowbirds.  Ok, I made that last part up. But, they are headed for mainland Florida and there is no vaccine for the diseases they carry.

– Florida will not be releasing a giant swarm of mutant mosquitoes.  Whew – just a few million – which is less than 1% of the mosquitoe population in the Keys.  Hence, the need for all that insecticide.

-Lastly, there exist DIY bio-hacking groups – folks, with or without formal training, who get together to hack genetic code. Nice little hobby.  This does scare me, but how is it a pro or con for releasing GMO mosquitoes?  Just because bad Jimmy-gene-hacker makes himself a unique little pet does that make it ok to release GMO mosquitoes?

I have no desire to debate any of you with strongly held opinions either for or against this plan.  (I do think it might be sort of fun to sit back and watch a few of you go at each other.)

I’m undereducated on the subject. My health knowledge is so minimal that I’ve never even had a flu shot.

It’s so minimal that I still don’t get why I would hope to be bitten by a GMO mosquito?

I’m just asking questions.

Why are there invasive mosquitoes here to start with?

Why are the mosquitoes resistant to insecticides?

Is it good or bad that there are no vaccines?

What will eating these skeeters due to the bats (some of whom are on the endangered or threatened list) and birds and frogs and…  ?

What is the fatality rate of second-hand smoke, influenza, and E. coli compared to the mosquito-borne diseases we are trying to stop?

I don’t have answers to any of this.

What would happen if a rouge female GMO mosquito bit someone?

I don’t know that.  Neither do the scientists.

Florida Keys residents are reported to be a bit odd anyway.  Key West is sometimes called Key weird and some are parrot heads so maybe it wouldn’t matter if someone had a cabbage head and coral for arms?

cabbageman copy

Oh.  And, how’s that herpes lesion working out for you?  What about the E. coli diarrhea?  Can your offspring live past the larval phase?

HEY, at least you might not get Dengue or Chickungunya!

Could some of the GMO bugs breed with non-GMO skeeters and their offspring live past the larval phase?

I dunno.

What would the offspring of those skeeters be like?

How about the children of the children of the bitten?


I’m going back to writing stories about something more realistic – like fairies.  Or maybe birds and bees and butterflies. While they still exist.