back to article Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city. And this is a good thing, it says

Google’s healthcare arm Verily announced just before the weekend it will release twenty million sterile male mosquitoes into the wild, in Fresno County, California. Don't panic: it's to test fighting diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. The Debug Project will be the biggest US study to set free mosquitoes infected with …

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Boffin

Having had Dengue Fever,

Anything that annoys Aedes aegyptis is fine with me,

But I do worry about the knock-on effects: there's an awful lot of other life out there in the food chain, and a lot of it starts with either the mosquito or its larvae. I wonder what they'll do a couple of years down the line?

I'd really like to see this process used to create something slightly different: either a mosquito that can't carry those diseases or better, one that doesn't like the smell of people and will simply choose not to bite me.

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

"It’s an invasive species originating in Africa" so getting rid of it from there just puts things back the way they were.

But this could be (and has been) used elsewhere. It may have side effects, but it's far easier to do than trying to replace with an engineered species. For a start it would take huge amounts of money and time to create such a species and then get approval for its release into the wild. And there would be massive protests at the release (from people who don't live in areas those diseases affect).

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

There's a 2010 article, titled

A world without mosquitoes:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html

Basically, the effect of eradicating mosquitos would be minimal, though some fish might have trouble adapting to another food source.

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

But I do worry about the knock-on effects: there's an awful lot of other life out there in the food chain, and a lot of it starts with either the mosquito or its larvae

1. The effect of the insecticides on them is significantly worse

2. The niche occupied by the mosquito larvae is not unique, it will be filled by other mosquito larvae species. As a result the overall number of mosquitoes will not drop, what will drop will be the number of "dangerous" ones.

By the way - as a technique this is not new. It has been used for a couple of decades to tackle one of the nastier species of US flies - the one whose maggots bury into living flesh.

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

But I do worry about the knock-on effects: there's an awful lot of other life out there in the food chain, and a lot of it starts with either the mosquito or its larvae. I wonder what they'll do a couple of years down the line?

I can't remember the exact figures, but there are something like 200 species of mosquito, only a handful of which suck blood, so eradicating the latter shouldn't have much of an overall impact on the food chains. However, considering humans have god knows how many hundreds of millennia of adapting to malaria (e.g. our blood groups are such an adaptation), the possible elimination of malaria is liable to have interesting results.

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

"The niche occupied by the mosquito larvae is not unique, it will be filled by other mosquito larvae species."

I wouldn't think that's the concern. What could be an issue is the Wolbachia and whether it could infect wild life, both other mosquitoes and organisms further up the food chain.

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Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

"By the way - as a technique this is not new. It has been used for a couple of decades to tackle one of the nastier species of US flies - the one whose maggots bury into living flesh."

You're thinking of the screw-worm fly (Cochliomyia hominivorax), the cause of fly-strike myiasis in sheep, and the sterile insect technique.

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Pirate

Re: Having had Dengue Fever,

I've had better luck building Cliff Swallow and bat houses, and having a thriving community of these wonderful creatures eating away at the bugs. I never get bit by one mosquito when I set this up properly. However, I also learned how to build traps for biting flies and mosquitoes. but they are now available at hardware stores. They waft CO2 in the wind, and simulate the temperature of a human around 98 degrees F. Then there is a suction system that traps them in the unit as they fly too close to carefully designed ports and/or landing points. These gizmos are very successful, and the price has been dropping since NASA released the public license to build them years ago.

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Accuracy is important.

Males aren't "bloodthirsty", only the females drink blood.

Bad form el reg, bad form.

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Re: Accuracy is important.

I knew that factoid but do you know what male mosquitoes eat (if anything)? I don't. So is it true?

OK, Wikipedia says "nectar and plant juices".

But maybe it was edited by male mosquitoes. What are they really up to?

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Re: Accuracy is important.

Mansplaining I am told.

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Who stuffed the headline then?

"Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city."

Does not follow from - "A million mosquitoes will be released over a 20-week period."

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Black Helicopters

Re: Who stuffed the headline then?

"Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city."

I was expecting 20-meter blood-thirsty freaks!

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Facepalm

Re: Who stuffed the headline then?

I read it as 20 metre lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city.

Was relieved to find out it was 20 million mosquitos

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Re: Who stuffed the headline then?

"Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city."

I was expecting 20-meter blood-thirsty freaks!

Imagine the flyswatter you'd need!

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"Infected sterile males will help kill off the population"

If that works on VCs, it could solve some of the problems in the SF area as well.

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Anonymous Coward

what could possibly go wrong!?

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Not all that much actually - it's a pretty clean fix. The released males all die off, the next generation is much reduced in size, and that's about it.

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"Not all that much actually - it's a pretty clean fix. The released males all die off, the next generation is much reduced in size, and that's about it."

That's what the laboratory tests have shown.

Next weeks news ( Fake or not) When the mosquitos we released into the wild the interaction with "X" provided a completely unexpected result...and as such the human population of Fresno was suddenly rendered sterile....

Nature is complex and has a tendency to find it's own balance, when we start playing at mother nature there are always unexpected results. sometimes good, sometime not....

I am glad not to be on that side of the pond....

As a side note, Google have the capacity to keep it under the covers..... there is definitely a big advantage to being the worlds number one media outlet....

Conspiracy theorist, who me :-)

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This is nothing new, been done for many years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterile_insect_technique

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/gm-mosquitoes-set-be-released-brazil-combat-dengue-0/

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Anonymous Coward

God will smite you down.

That's what will go wrong you unbeliever in science.

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You're being downvoted

By the Religious Science Zelots, who treat Science like a religion and the common man cannot question, ever, what the "Scientists" say. (Despite history showing that Sicentists are usually always wrong)

Take Physics for example. They do not know what 90% of the Universe is made up of. They can't measure it, they can't see it.

Would you let a baker lecture you on baking if they didn't have a clue what 90% of the cake they're trying to sell was made up of.

Exactly.

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That's what they said about the velociraptors in Jurassic Park?

"Nature will find a way."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're being downvoted

Sicentists are usually always wrong.

I have to agree, scientists on the other hand are a measured bunch.

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Re: You're being downvoted

They do not know what 90% of the Universe is made up of. They can't measure it

Of course they can measure it. How the hell do you think they discovered it?

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Re: You're being downvoted

"(Despite history showing that Sicentists are usually always wrong)"

In that case there's no need to respond to you, since there is obviously no such thing as the Internet (which depends utterly on many different scientific theories being extremely accurate).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're being downvoted

The difference is the Physicists know that they don't know and seek to try and improve their knowledge. And the Physicist is not trying to 'sell' you space, the baker is trying to sell you bread (and have you looked at the additives they bake into bread to 'improve' it????

Many people (and you seem to be one) don't seem to be able to cope with the idea that science & scientists will offer a possible explanation based on what is known at that time, and when new knowledge comes along that explanation can and will change. Scientists are quite happy to be wrong, its just they are trying to be a little bit more right. (most of the time)

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Re: You're being downvoted

Take Physics for example. They do not know what 90% of the Universe is made up of. They can't measure it, they can't see it.

Would you let a baker lecture you on baking if they didn't have a clue what 90% of the cake they're trying to sell was made up of.

Bakers make cakes, so should know what's in them. Physicists don't make universes. (Yet. :-)

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WTF?

Re: You're being downvoted

Would you let a baker lecture you on baking if they didn't have a clue what 90% of the cake they're trying to sell was made up of.
Considering that bread is largely (maybe not 90%) "air", and I know of few bakers that can tell you the difference between air and CO2 (even fewer that can tell you the biochemistry of wheat); the OP may want to choose a different analogy that doesn't disprove their point.

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Re: You're being downvoted

Take Physics for example. They do not know what 90% of the Universe is made up of. They can't measure it, they can't see it.

99.9999999999(repeating)% of the universe is vacuum.

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"Next weeks news ( Fake or not) When the mosquitos we released into the wild the interaction with "X" provided a completely unexpected result...and as such the human population of Fresno was suddenly rendered sterile...."

They all turn into MosquitoMan/Woman and get the superpower of being able to whine irritatingly in the bedroom.

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Re: You're being downvoted

"(Despite history showing that Sicentists are usually always wrong)"

Do you have proof of that or just faith in your righteousness?

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Re: what could possibly go wrong?

That there are unintended consequences. Just like the Zika virus.

And before you complain, here's a quote from that article:

Those who warned about threats to the ecosystem were maliciously smeared and labeled "anti-science"

Downvote this.

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I assure that it's not that super a power - particularly when you're on the receiving end of it.

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Trollface

@Khaptain

Next weeks news ( Fake or not) When the mosquitos we released into the wild the interaction with "X" provided a completely unexpected result...and as such the human population of Fresno was suddenly rendered sterile....

No real loss there.

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Re: what could possibly go wrong?

Your proof is a link to Natural News.

OK. I won't downvote you, I'll just point and laugh instead.

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Living in Fresno, or as I affectionately call it Hell, that'd be little to no loss. I didn't want kids anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: what could possibly go wrong?

Unless we are reading this wrong. Your article stated that

-some self-replicating genetically modified organisms

-Zika appears to have been caused by the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes from 2012

-antibiotics in the environment

-larvae were supposed to be dead before it reaches breeding age

.

So the article conclude that engineers' mosquitoes "might" have survived and need to be flyswatted (insert Zika somewhere in the there to make it looks like it has cause/correlation).

Next time, maybe try the something with historical reference like 1940 DDT Insecticide to prove unintended consequences.

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Devil

Re: You're being downvoted

"99.9999999999(repeating)% of the universe is vacuum."

Well see I have a tiny problem with that, specifically with you stating there that a number that mathematically exactly equals 100% is all the vacuum the universe is made of. The parts of me that don't feel vaccum-y at all emphatically object to this direct denial of their existence...

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Coat

Sexist approach?

Releasing infected males to mate with wild females...hang on.....cold shower....aaahhh....now where was I?

Oh, yes.

I assume that they decided that releasing infected females to waste the efforts of wild males...{sploosh.....damn that's cold.....aaahhh} would be less effective although ISTR that has been tried with other species.

-> hanging my coat up to keep it dry

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Re: "Sexist approach?" No, even though --

-- I realize you're joking. Only the ladies bite and suck. (Back in the shower for you...) Releasing 20 million biters, even ones with a mosquito STD, would probably cause the Fresno locals to get their pitchforks and hot tar ready for those involved. The males are harmless as a mayfly, except for their "parts" in creating more mosquitoes.

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Trollface

Re: "Sexist approach?" No, even though --

Only the ladies bite and suck. (Back in the shower for you...)

We are still talking about mosquitoes right?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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Mushroom

So when natural selection let's even one female mosquito lay fertile eggs after being mated with a Wolbachia male, then a new super mossie is born. It'd never happen n a lab (too small a sample) but 20 million in the wild. I suggest buying shares in DEET producing companies !!!

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There's always that risk, but in terms of the arms race against mosquitoes, it's easier to develop new strains of Wolbachia than to develop resistance to it. The mosquitoes already won the race against pesticides.

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TRT
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Well, depends what you mean by "won". The mutations that "adapted" to DDT, for example, were primarily ones that 1) Had super thick myelinated neurones and were, as a result, thicker than dried pig shit and quite often died because they kept e.g. forgetting to breathe or 2) Jumped a mile at even the merest hint of a shadow passing nearby, thus avoiding the aerial DDT spraying, but expending far, far more energy than the "regular" type.

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Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city.

Mosquitoes?? Meh

I was hoping this horde was meant to kill off the REAL "Blood Thirsty Freaks.

Lawyers

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Re: Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city.

Hmm, I wonder what biotech would effectively eradicate lawyers?

Seems a lot of people have little to no idea what scientists actually do.

I bet they think all scientists wear white coats and thick bottle bottom glasses, speak with a fake German accent and occasionally invent things like flubber.

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Re: Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city.

I bet they think all scientists wear white coats and thick bottle bottom glasses, speak with a fake German accent and occasionally invent things like flubber.

I don't speak with a fake German accent.

And you forgot to mention the evil laugh.

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Bah!

"Wait a minute! When I said to release the mosquitoes from Containment Facility A and destroy the control group in Containment Facility B, I had that the wrong way round. I'll forget me head next!"

"What?"

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Population control

Bill Gates is watching with interest.

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