THE PLAGUE OF THE GMOSQUITOES
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
It has long been assumed that the force driving evolution is natural selection, not the creation of genetic variants because the rate of mutation was thought to be constant and unaffected by circumstances although Darwin himself did not believe this. There is a body of thought that concludes that the model of selection must include adaptive mutation.
Adaptive mutation is defined as a process that, during the nonlethal selection process, produces mutations that relieve the selective pressure whether or not other, non-selected mutations are also produced.
Examples of adaptive mutation or related phenomena have been reported in bacteria and yeast but not yet outside of microorganisms. A decade of research on adaptive mutation has revealed mechanisms that may increase mutation rates under adverse conditions.
Directed mutagenesis, also known as directed mutation, was a hypothesis proposing that organisms can respond to environmental stresses by orthogenetically directing mutations to certain genes or areas of the genome.
We have seen over time how the environment is affecting the genome. We have also seen how tinkering with the natural processes can create circumstances that cannot be reversed and so the natural world begins to change in ways that are unimaginable.
One area in which the relationship between society and the natural world has played a particularly central role is emerging technologies, both in terms of how the public perceives them, and, the mainstream narratives in media coverage and stakeholder debates or contestation. Because some new technologies alter or mediate the way that people interact with their natural environment, they have frequently acted as lightning rods for debates about appropriate levels of human intervention in natural processes.
It is not surprising that given that agricultural biotechnology literally involves manipulating the genetic structure of plants concerns about messing with nature have been central to debates about genetically modified crops, as well as the cloning of animals and breeding them in order to yield more meat.
However, while the media narratives will tell you otherwise GM crops and genetically altering the animals ‘threaten the natural order’ and despite potential benefits, they are ‘fundamentally unnatural’.
Nanotechnologies offer another pertinent example of the complex and dynamic way in which the boundaries between natural and non-natural processes are construed by scientists, policymakers, and technocrats.
Offering the potential to ‘engineer’ at a sub-molecular level, analyses of the views of members of the public have identified concerns about blurring the distinction between natural creation, and human control of the creation processes through genetic engineering and what is critically called Frankenscience.
Last year Ground Zero reported that a project funded by a research agency of the US Department of Defense called “Insect Allies” which was intended for insects to be used for dispersing genetically modified viruses to agricultural plants in fields. These viruses would be engineered so they can alter the chromosomes of plants through ‘genome editing’. This would allow for genetic modifications to be implemented quickly and at a large scale on crops that are already growing in fields, such as corn.
At the end of 2016, DARPA put out a call for tenders for a 4-year research work plan. This program has distributed a total of 27 million dollars, aiming to develop genetically modified viruses that can genetically edit crops in fields.
Corn and tomato plants were reportedly being used in the experiments, while dispersal insect species mentioned included leafhoppers, whiteflies, and aphids.
DARPA assured the public that developments resulting from the Insect Allies Program were intended for routine agricultural use; however, most countries using such technology would require comprehensive changes to approval processes for genetically modified organisms.
The problem with such an endeavor was obvious.
The use of insects as an uncontrolled means of dispersing synthetic viruses into the environment could be more easily used for biological warfare than for routine agricultural use.
The history of biological warfare is nearly as old as the history of warfare itself. In ancient times, warring parties poisoned wells or used arrowheads with natural toxins. Mongol invaders catapulted plague victims into besieged cities, probably causing the first great plague epidemic in Europe, and British settlers distributed smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans.
However, more and more we are learning that secretly, there are genetic engineers developing weapons that are far more sophisticated. Biological weapons that target certain groups of people are becoming more advanced.
The genetically engineered Frankenbug certainly has a highly-lethal potential and can be engineered to resist any and all environmental influence, but of course, we cannot know the entire story.
Much more alarming, from an arms-control perspective, are the possibilities of developing completely novel weapons on the basis of knowledge provided by biomedical research; developments that are already taking place.
Such weapons, designed for new types of conflicts and warfare scenarios, secret operations or sabotage activities, are not mere science fiction but are increasingly becoming a reality that we have to face.
In debates about genetic engineering and biological weapons, it is often stated that natural pathogens are sufficiently dangerous and deadly, and that genetic engineering is not necessary to turn them into more effective biological weapons.
The same can be said for conventional weapons being deadly and dangerous and yet we have nuclear capabilities, and advanced artificial intelligence capable of launching nuclear warheads at a predetermined target.
Keep in mind that today we don’t need a large nuclear weapon to take out a city – we can genetically modify an insect to carry with it a deadly pathogen to target unsuspecting victims with plausible deniability.
Back in 2016, we presented a show called Zika: Perfecting Inhumanity. We reported that a British Biotech company called Oxitech was to release genetically modified mosquitoes among the normal mosquito population in order to combat dengue fever and other diseases that can be carried by these predatory insects.
These mutant mosquitoes had many strange traits – one, was they were able to glow red when placed under a microscope and the other was they carried a gene that would cause the offspring of normal mosquitoes to attack one another, causing the weaker normal mosquitoes to self-destruct.
The idea was to release male genetically modified mosquitoes that would mate with existing normal females and hatch larvae which would eventually die off.
Many people were afraid that it would change the ecosystem and while the normal mosquitoes would be eliminated, what would the GM mosquitoes do to the environment?
It sounded like a great idea to get rid of pests; however, there was not a lot of data on what would happen when a large population of mosquitoes is taken out of the ecosystem.
Oxitec had admitted their system of introducing mutant pests to the environment wasn’t fool-proof. Oxitec could not guarantee that some of the GM mosquitoes would be female.
It is the female mosquito that sucks the blood from animals and humans.
It was found that one female would be accidentally released for every 1,500 male mosquitoes.
The risk here is simple — a female genetically modified mosquito would come in contact with a human. It lands and penetrates the skin as is normal.
In the process, a genetically modified protein is then introduced into the child’s system. These proteins are also mixed with other genetically modified organisms in the bugs salivary glands.
This makes the rogue females carriers of a genetically modified population reducer.
The substance of modified proteins could very well deliver a force multiplied pathogen or contagion capable of spreading rapidly.
How do we know this? Because history confirms the testing of biological weapons on citizens of the United States.
Declassified documents in 1956 and 1958 revealed the US Army let loose swarms of specially bred mosquitoes in Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida to check whether these insects could be used as a biological weapon.
Ironically, the US in 1972 signed the Biological Weapons Convention and President Nixon had ordered Pentagon to stop producing biological weapons in 1969 – obviously, the Presidential Directive was not followed. Despite signing the Convention, the United States or rather its intelligence has been toying with different types of bio-chemical “weaponry” – Ebola, Sarin VX nerve gas, Mandrax, deadly lethal injection drugs – scoline and tubarine, paratyphoid, salmonella, cholera, anthrax, smallpox, highly potent CR tear gas and dengue fever.
In 2009, the first set of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes were released on Grand Cayman, an island in the Caribbean. In 2010, 3 million genetically modified mosquitoes were released. The release was done in secret and back then, there were people that worried about what they might have been exposed to.
The GM-mosquitoes were already released in Malaysia, Brazil, Panama, Singapore, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Since that time, there was an under-reported a forced multiplied strain of dengue fever that was seen in those areas leading some people to believe these genetically modified mosquitoes were being created for population control.
Since the introduction of these GM mosquitoes, the problems they were supposed eradicate got worse. India, Pakistan suddenly began experiencing dengue fever outbreaks, along with Iran. Two years ago, Cambodia and China were hit by a super-strain of dengue fever, which kills nearly 90% of its victims. Doctors were speculating these strains were created in a lab.
Even the best plans with good intentions can go south really quick.
According to a recent Newsweek article, when Oxitech set out to weaken the mosquitoes that carried Zika in Brazil, they accidentally made them stronger.
Now the population of mosquitoes has grown and are now carriers of Zika, Yellow Fever, and Dengue.
Here in the United States, health officials in several states reported more cases and deaths linked to the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus. The number of cases, while still small, is set to make 2019 the worst recorded year for EEE in recent history.
In Massachusetts, health officials this past Friday reported the death of a man in his 70s from EEE, the second death and also the 10th human case of EEE seen in the state this year. That same day, officials from Michigan reported that an eighth human case of EEE was spotted within their borders; the state has also seen three deaths linked to EEE. New Jersey officials also reported the discovery of two more cases among residents, adding to another case found in August, and Connecticut reported its first fatality and second case as well.
In total for 2019, there have been over 25 confirmed or suspected cases of EEE reported across six states, along with at least seven deaths. It’s not clear yet whether all of these cases represent the most severe form of the virus—an infection that reaches the brain and nervous system that kills a third of its victims. But typically, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the country sees an average of seven severe EEE cases annually. And this is almost certainly one of the worst years of EEE recorded in decades.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is being spread by mosquitoes.
What is unique about the outbreak is that human cases are rare because the mosquitoes that can spread it to us live in swampy areas, not big cities, and people aren’t part of the virus’ natural life cycle.
So this raises eyebrows about so-called Insect Allies that may be modified for bio-warfare.
Scientists are now saying that the genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes developed by Oxitec may have impacted the actual genetics of the natural mosquito populations where these bioengineered bugs were released.
In other words, the bio-bugs were reproducing and passing on the scientifically altered gene to their offspring, which were surviving. According to the theory of GM mosquitoes, this was not supposed to happen; the offspring of females that mated with the genetically modified males should not have survived, thereby cutting the population.
If you remember back in July, The House of Representatives added an unusual amendment to the 2020 U.S. defense budget: a requirement that the Department of Defense reveal details of any biological warfare research it did involving ticks during the Cold War. The requirement stems from allegations that Lyme disease was actually a biowarfare experiment accidentally released into the public.
The amendment was added to the defense budget by New Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith. It calls on the U.S. government to “conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975.”
The amendment is an attempt to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers, at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York, implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents.
The Nazis purposely re-flooded the Pontine Marshes around Rome and Naples as a premeditated biological weapon to reintroduce malaria’s mosquitoes into that part of Italy during WWII.
Over the course of 200,000 years, 108 billion people have lived on Earth. And nearly half, 52 billion have been killed by mosquitoes.
The mosquito is a nearly universal animal. We have 110 trillion across nearly all of the planet, and we’ve had them for over 100 million years. So the mosquito is global, whereas other insects have their ecological niches here and there around the world.
The other thing is that the mosquito transmits or vectors far more diseases than other insects making it a very effective carrier for biological warfare.