by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of laboratory infected mosquitoes carrying the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis to be released into the wild. The laboratory-raised mosquitoes are meant to be a way to infect Asian Tiger mosquitoes, which are believed to carry harmful infectious diseases.
The long term environmental consequences are unknown. Because mosquitoes are prey for birds and fish, the long-term effects on the greater ecosystem are unclear.
Killer Mosquitoes Safer than Genetically Modified Mosquitoes?
Most welcome the effort at hampering mosquitoes’ reproductive potential as a welcome alternative to various aerial and land-based mass chemical spraying activities that add to our toxic environments, ultimately endangering human and animal health.
After the backlash against releasing genetically modified mosquitoes that would disrupt the reproductive cycles of the Aedes aegypti or Asian Tiger Mosquito, considered a major carrier of the most dangerous mosquito-borne infectious diseases, MosquitoMate, a start-up company with the help of Kentucky University’s laboratories and researchers, discovered what the EPA considers an acceptable alternative for mosquito control.
David O’Brochta, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, endorsed the EPA’s approval:
“It’s a non-chemical way of dealing with mosquitoes, so from that perspective, you’d think it would have a lot of appeal. I’m glad to see it pushed forward, as I think it could be potentially really important.” (Source)
Unlike genetically modified mosquitoes that drew popular resistance against being used in the Florida Keys, lab produced male mosquitoes that are intentionally infected with the Walbachia bacterium that prevents the female mosquitoes’ eggs from hatching are considered less of a potential ecological hazard to effectively diminish mosquito breeding than genetically engineered mosquitoes that are intended to serve the same purpose.
How the Walbachia Method Works
Walbachia bacteria strains allegedly pose no threat to human health. They are benign and many insects carry it.
So what makes it able to inhibit female mosquito eggs from hatching? Walbachia bacteria have several different strains. The strain introduced into MosquitoMate lab male mosquitoes is a different strain than what wild female mosquitoes carry.
The male Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, which do not bite or feed on mammalian blood, mate with the wild female mosquitoes. The mismatch in walbachia strains causes a chromosomal paternal mismatch, which is what keeps the eggs of female Asian Tiger Mosquitoes from hatching. The company calls its Walbachia pipientis strain male mosquitoes ZAP mosquitoes.
Since there is no genetic engineering involved, there is no genetic wildcard that can create a weird ecological chain reaction that cascades into environmental destruction, which GMO agriculture has created.
Of course, this is done without massive spraying. The question remains whether local government agencies will go with this longer term mosquito control activity or press the buttons massive spraying of the immediate mosquito population termination at the first rumor of a mosquito borne epidemic.
MosquitoMate recommends beginning their infectious mosquito control method before any panic occurs from isolated incidents of infectious diseases carried by the Asian Tiger mosquito, technically categorized as Aedes albopictus.
MosquitoMate is a small Lexington, Kentucky start-up company. They’re still too small to accommodate massive efforts at mosquito control because of the demands of sorting out the male and female mosquitoes after introducing the particular walbachia strain to all the lab produced mosquitoes is beyond their technical equipment capability.
However, researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, and Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan say they are releasing 5 million Wolbachia-infected Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquitoes) each week in Guangzhou, China.
They are using mechanical sorters to separate males from females, on the basis of size differences at the pupal stage, with 99% efficiency. Then they expose the remaining mosquitoes to X-ray radiation at a dose that sterilizes any remaining females, but is too low to affect the males.
Historical Perspective of Testing the Walbachia Method of Mosquito Control
This method of infecting male mosquitoes with Walbachia bacteria to render female tiger mosquitoes infertile was tested as far back as 2011 in Australia. Chinese testing of the same mosquito depopulation approach in 2015 has been considered successful at lowering the mosquito population making mammals and humans safer from mosquito-borne infections, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus.
Small containers can be packed with thousands of lab produced mismatched male Walbachia strain carrying male Asian Tiger mosquitoes and let loose in specific areas. They can be released in specific areas of demand, whether designated by local government agencies or private property owners.
So far, the EPA has licensed MosquitoMate to operate in 20 states and Washington, D.C., that have similar climates to other areas where they’ve been tested.
Are the Mosquito Born Disease Scares Exaggerated?
Most diseases from infected mosquitoes are flu-like and not lethal. This includes the Zika virus and Dengue fever. Similar to exaggerated flu scares, these diseases prompt urgent massive actions that are highly questionable.
The Brazilian Zika virus birth microcephaly (small head) 2014-2015 epidemic, was purportedly caused by mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus. A group of doctors traced this epidemic to chemicals ironically used to kill mosquitoes.
The aerial sprayed chemicals had polluted drinking water among the highest concentration of mothers in poverty who produced newborns with skull deformities supposedly caused by the Zika virus.
A group of Argentine doctors, The Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Villages, questioned the Zika mosquito cause of microcephaly and wrote a detailed paper explaining why.
Here are some excerpts:
… a chemical larvicide producing malformations in mosquitoes has been applied for 18 months, and that this poison (pyroproxyfen) is applied by the State on drinking water used by the affected population.
Previous Zika epidemics did not cause birth defects in newborns, despite infecting 75% of the population in those countries. Also, in other countries such as Colombia there are no records of microcephaly; however, there are plenty of Zika cases. The pyroproxyfen being used (as recommended by WHO) is manufactured by Sumimoto Chemical, a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto.
This poison, recommended by the WHO, is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, … [by] which means that it acts by endocrine disruption that is teratogenic .
Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added pyriproxyfen to drinking water is not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on Zika virus for this …
Doctors from the Brazilian Association for Collective Health (ABRASCO) demand that urgent epidemiological studies taking into account this causal link be carried out, especially when among 3,893 cases of malformations confirmed until January 20, 2016, 49 children have died and only five of them were confirmed to have been infected with Zika. (Emphasis added)
This paper did not make mainstream news.
Health Impact News reporter John Thomas wrote a series of articles exposing the Zika virus scare:
Massive spraying operations took place and a vaccine was researched.
It’s highly questionable that many of the viral epidemics blamed on mosquitoes are as valid as the health agencies and media claim. They do seem to serve some purpose. One should examine who benefits from the public’s fear of mosquitoes?