Mutant Bugs' Task: Destroy Own Species
Fruit flies implanted with gene to halt population
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Sep 30, 2013 1:19 PM CDT
Olive fruit flies can destroy 15% to 30% of a year's crop.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – How do you get rid of a population of bugs destroying your crops? Scientists are trying out a controversial method: spreading a gene that prevents females from reproducing. Males can live with the lab-inserted gene, but females die in the larval stage—which doesn't leave a lot of options for reproduction or the future of the species, New Scientist reports. In a lab experiment, this decimated the population in 10 weeks.

Scientists at English firm Oxitec want to try their method in Spain, where they're awaiting the OK from Spanish authorities to kill off certain fruit flies that destroy some 15% to 30% of the olive tree crop each year. But genetic science watchdogs have concerns about the method, fearing, for instance, that altered populations could affect creatures outside their own species, Mashable reports. A similar experiment is already happening in the wild in Brazil, where the Oxitec team has altered males of a population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes. Some 96% of dengue mosquitoes around the city of Mandacaru have been destroyed, the company says.

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
julianpenrod
Sep 30, 2013 11:52 PM CDT
P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Very characteristically short sighted and shallow. Among other things, for all that the insects targeted are seen as anything from “pests” to “enemies” for some reason, they still fill a function. Many are also food for other animals. With that source of food eliminated, other species can suffer, those deprived of food and those the predators turn to instead. What if the gene becomes all but omnipresent as insects spread around? And, consider, the superficial and dim witted may be aghast at the idea of 15% to 30% of the Spanish olive crop being ruined by the fruit flies, but those with an understanding of the world around them realize that Spain's olive industry is not suffering! Their olive crop is still making them money! And flooding the markets with even more olives not damaged by the insects can actually even threaten to reduce their profits! If “supply and demand” isn't a lie, that is! It may be that there is something craven and malignant behind this “experiment”!
BrushMan
Sep 30, 2013 8:17 PM CDT
This could work with Republicans as well. They are bugs destroying our crops too.
Antagonist
Sep 30, 2013 7:39 PM CDT
An experiment, Kinda like the movie "Mimic"