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Bill Gates donates $4M to create mosquitoes that kill each other using sex

Who would have thought that the answer to curbing malaria and the mosquito menace would be sex!

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft is pouring about £4 million into a project whose focus on killing mosquitoes is through sex. Genetically engineered killer mosquitoes will each other through sex.

This rather innovative project is aimed at curbing malaria, a deadly disease which is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito.

Funds from the charitable, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be pumped into the project with the hopes of eradicating malaria within a generation.

The idea is to create genetically modified male mosquitoes which would be released into the wild to mate with females. Since only the female mosquitoes are known to bite, humans would be relatively safe from Gates’ genetically engineered swarm!

These male mosquitoes have a self-limiting gene which would get transferred to females and later passed on to offspring. The effects of the gene are such that the offspring would not live long enough to attain adulthood.

The creators of this mosquito species argue that since mosquitoes only begin to bite people on attaining adulthood, over a span of time, blood-sucking female mosquitoes could be wiped out completely. In this manner, the spread of malaria would be curbed.

Oxitec, a U.K. based company responsible for this creation has dubbed the mosquitoes “Friendly Mosquitoes” a rather dubious name for their female counterparts! The company expects these killer sex mosquitoes to be ready for trials by 2020.

Besides this malaria attacking mosquitoes, Oxitec has the distinction of already having created a mosquito to deal with the Zika virus.

The company has achieved a high level of success in dealing with the Zika virus with this gene-engineered mosquito. Wild populations of the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, have been reduced by 90 percent in some areas. However, the same mosquito is ineffective for the Anopheles mosquitoes which require another genetically engineered mate.

Oxitec’s plans have come in for severe criticism by Friends of the Earth, a charity that is focused on protecting the environment. They feel that the unethical genetic engineering of a species can have dire effects on the environment. They were also highly critical of the company which they feel has put their commercial interests ahead of public and environmental safety.

In 2012, Eric Hoffman of the same charity commented: "Trials of its mosquitoes must not move forward in the absence of comprehensive and impartial reviews of the environmental, human health and ethical risks."

Bill Gates, who has been a longtime supporter of Oxitec, seems to have a different take on this. In fact, as early as 2010 he had also donated about £ 3.7 million to help fund Oxitec’s early killer mosquito projects. His commitment towards eradicating this killer disease is as firm as it was before and his charitable foundation continues to fund projects to this effect.

Bill Gates donates $4M to create mosquitoes that kill each other using sex Bill Gates donates $4M to create mosquitoes that kill each other using sex Reviewed by Tim on December 21, 2018 Rating: 5

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