A shocking report coming from Fox News and multiple other sources states that Google is releasing 20 million infected mosquitos into a major U.S. city starting now. Why on earth would they do that, and how did they get approval from city officials to flood the environment with modified infected insects that are known to transmit diseases to humans? The answers are shocking.
According to Fox News, Google’s life sciences division known as Verily is releasing 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitos in an experimental attempt to accomplish one thing — destroy the population of mosquitos that are already carrying potentially deadly diseases such as Zika virus and dengue. How will 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitos accomplish this? The answer is in the mosquito’s sex-drive, or at least Google thinks so.
According to Tech Crunch, Verily, the life sciences division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, believes that their 20 million lab-made, bacteria-infected mosquitoes, which all happen to be males, will get the job done. If things go according to plan, the army of Google bugs will attract a significant number of disease carrying females and mate with them. The key to Google’s plan, with the swarm of male mosquitoes, is that they are all sterile due to a bacteria with which they have been infected.
Officials from the City of Fresno, California, seem to be on board with the “sterilize and conquer” plan hatched by Google. According to Building A Better World News, Verily is working with Fresno’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District to release 1 million bacteria-infected mosquitoes every week for 20 weeks. The plan is already underway and the first batch of super-mosquitoes has already been released.
If the female mosquitoes choose one of these sterile males as a mate, the mosquito population will decrease due to the production of non-hatching dead eggs, according to Bloomberg. “If we can show that this technique can work, I’m confident we can make it a sustainable business because the burden of these mosquitoes is enormous,” said Verily engineering chief Linus Upson.
The lab-made mosquitos have not been genetically modified according to Verily, they have simply been infected with a bacteria that causes them to be sterile. The infection the male mosquitoes have been given is called a Wolbachia infection, which supposedly cannot be transmitted to the female.
“Last October, we announced the Debug Project, an initiative at Verily to reduce the devastating global health impact that disease-carrying mosquitoes inflict on people around the world,” the Verily statement reads. “Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Debug Fresno, our first field study in the U.S. to test a potential mosquito control method using sterile insect technique in collaboration with MosquitoMate and Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD),” it continued.
“Debug Fresno will target the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti first appeared in the central valley of California in 2013, and since then has become pervasive in Fresno County. This study will be the largest U.S. release to-date of sterile male mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, and will take place over a 20 week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size,” Verily further explained.
According to Verily, the Walchobia bacteria is harmless to humans. The claim is that if one of their sterile lab-made mosquitoes exchanges bodily fluids with a human host during the process of blood extraction, the human won’t contract the Walchobia infection. However, not everyone is on board with this idea. Call me a little paranoid, but I think an attempt to kill mosquitoes with other lab-modified mosquitoes doesn’t sound like an incredibly good idea, and apparently, I’m not alone.
Many on social media are voicing their complaints and reservations about Google’s plan. One Facebook user commented,: “Does Google have government permission to release a biological agent into (the) ecosystem? Should Google be engaging in biowarfare against insects?”
Another Facebook user made a great point about the possible effect on other organisms, saying, “It doesn’t affect humans, what about other species that rely on the mosquitos for food, say bats, birds? What if less than 1% of those instead develop an immunity to this infection?”
These are good questions. There are numerous instances in recent decades where attempts to eradicate undesirable organisms or diseases with the use of chemical compounds or other lab-modified organisms has gone terribly wrong. I’m not terribly excited about Google’s super-mosquito plan in Fresno. Perhaps the people who live there should demand more answers from their city officials before they are turned into a population of human guinea pigs.