Should we eliminate mosquitoes?
The New York Times
For more than 100 million years, the mosquito has been “our apex predator, the deadliest hunter of human beings on the planet,” said Timothy Winegard. About 100 trillion of these blood-sucking insects patrol our world, transmitting diseases that kill 700,000 people every year. By infecting human beings with yellow fever, malaria, and a host of other parasites, viruses, and bacteria, mosquitoes “may have killed nearly half of the 108 billion humans who have ever lived.” Now the “life-and-death” battle between mosquitoes and people “may be coming to a head.” Scientists armed with a gene-editing technology called Crispr have designed mosquitoes that produce infertile offspring. If released en masse into the wild, these biologically altered bugs could render mosquitoes extinct. Limited field experiments have shown this strategy actually works. There is fear, however, that eradicating mosquitoes could have unforeseen consequences, allowing some other species to become a threat, or otherwise disturbing “mother nature’s equilibrium.” Still, with both old and new pathogens like Zika spreading, it would be a mistake to underestimate the deadly threat mosquitoes pose to our species. At some point, we may have to choose between us and them.