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GM Mosquitoes May Piggyback the Zika Virus

Posted on 09 April 2016 by Jerry

Genetic modification of a male mosquito whose offspring die before they mature and mate can be used to kill a certain kind of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that carries dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and now Zika virus.  Oxitec, a company out of the United Kingdom, produces this mosquito, with an engineered “self destruct” gene.

This company provides only one of three ways to drastically reduce the number of the offending mosquitoes.  The other two ways are using male mosquitoes that have been sterilized by low doses of radiation and/or a mosquito that is infected with the Wolbachia bacteria.  These bacteria do not infect humans but prevents eggs of infected females from hatching.  All of these approaches entail releasing large numbers of male mosquitoes into the environment.

The Oxitec genetically modified mosquito has been tested in Brazil, the Cayman Islands and a trial has been proposed in Florida.  Now the World Health Organization is very interested in the Oxitec mosquito as a viable way of stopping the spread of the Zika virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tentatively agreed that the Oxitec genetically modified mosquito would not have a significant impact on the environment as a result of a trial in Florida.  The FDA report states, “The FDA found that the probability that the release of OX513A male mosquitoes would result in toxic or allergenic effects in humans or other animals is negligible.”  The FDA has to wait for public comment before giving final approval of the trial.  The process will probably take a few months.

Genetically modified insects have been introduced into the environment to protect or enhance crops for a number of years.  This however, will be the first GM insect introduced into the environment to have a direct effect on human beings. 

The problem is that use of this genetically modified mosquito has opened up quite a bit of controversy.  An opponent of the genetically modified mosquito, Jaydee Hanson a senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, has been quoted in a Bloomberg news article published on 1/29/2016.  He said “Mosquitoes are food for lots of animals; We would still want to see studies of when birds and bats and amphibians eat these genetically modified animals.  They’re introducing into the ecosystem some genetic constructs that have never been there before.”

The same article quotes the Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry as arguing the opposite position.  He said, “You always get some people who say I don’t like genetic engineering because it’s a bad thing and we’re messing with nature.”  Referring to criticism that his mosquito might die out and another will come to the fore, he has also been quoted as saying, “So in the very worst case, where you find that you eliminated Aedes aegypti in an area and the Aedes albopictus went up, then you would actually be replacing a very dangerous vector with a far less effective one.”

You know that there are two other options that could be used to stop this type of mosquito that do not involve genetic modifications.  There are male mosquitoes of the same species that are exposed to low-grade radiation that sterilizes them and there are males that pass on the Wolbachia bacteria that make it so female eggs do not hatch.  Both of these two methods use males to mate with females to cause an end to successful fertilization and replication.

The question becomes why are we moving to choose the method that requires genetic modification.  The only answer that is probable is that we want to see a genetically altered alternative in the market.  This is a continuation of the government push for genetic engineering.   There have been numerous articles on this blog going back to the June 13, 2012 posting of Genetic Engineering Influence Peddling and Profit (see www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/genetic-engineering/page/4/ ) that show the government’s bias to push for genetic modification products.

This support is hidden from the average citizen’s view and is the reason we are seeking a genetically engineered alternative.  There are just too many economic interests to be satisfied.  These, as an example, range from educators to scientists to entrepreneurs to established major competitors like Monsanto and to politicians.  The U.S. voter should rise up and call for a hiatus on approval of genetically modified products until there is proof that these products do not represent a threat to our health.

The FDA approved the first genetically modified animal intended to be human food in the AguAdvantage Salmon for sale and consumption in the U.S. sometime after November of last year.  Fortunately members of Congress disagreed.  On page 106 of the 2016 federal spending bill congress people added a requirement for the FDA to not allow the selling of this product in the U.S. until the agency puts in place labeling guidelines and “a program to disclose to consumers” whether a fish has been genetically modified.

We have a very short time to influence this genetic engineering issue.  We should insist that our candidates for president address this issue for us so we know where they stand on genetically engineered foods.  In all cases we should ask for regulation and oversight by a newly established governmental agency that dramatically slows the headlong rush to get these products into the market. 

Use the following links to access more information or read the source documents used to prepare this article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/04/what-it-would-really-take-for-gmo-mosquitoes-to-solve-the-zika-crisis/

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/10/gm-mosquitos-malaria-genetic-modification

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35585656

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-29/genetically-modified-mosquito-may-become-weapon-against-zika

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/Genetically-Modified-Mosquitos-May-Be-Released-in-Florida-Keys/384859/

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/genetically_modified_mosquito_sparks_a_controversy-in-florida/2883/

http://www.dw.com/en/fda-gives-nod-to-genetically-modified-mosquitoes/a-19112519

http://time.com/4258317/fda-genetically-engineered-mosquito/

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Find Out Who Pays for “Denials”

Posted on 21 January 2016 by Jerry

Increasingly investigators are trying to find out who is paying for denial of the truth. We all watched for 50 years as the tobacco industry paid many people to lie about the dangers of smoking tobacco. If we had a smoking gun (no pun intended) like we had in the later years, we would have put warnings on cigarettes much sooner. It was the government’s filing of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) lawsuit that ended the cigarette industry’s deception. We need to know who is paying for falsehoods today.

We see lies and denials on a variety of issues. Probably the most famous deniers are in the climate change environment. We know they are being paid or are receiving campaign donations from wealthy individuals who run businesses that will benefit from stalling negative public reaction, political retribution or regulation.

We know for example that Harvard scientist and climate denier Wei-Hack Soon took a $1.2 million bribe from oil companies to produce 11 papers denying climate change since 2008. According to his deal, the papers were just “deliverables” he completed in exchange for their money. We subsequently found out he was actually an aerospace engineer and only a part-time employee at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

We can infer who is paying the deniers by looking at the companies that officially deny man-made climate change. Look at ExxonMobil as an example. Of 938 papers recently cited by a web site, sixty-seven papers denying climate change were written by Dr. Sherwood B. Idso. Dr. Idso is also the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second greatest number of articles was written by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Michaels receives about 40% of his funding from the oil industry.

These deceptions are in the face of overwhelming evidence that these issues are settled science. For example, turning once again to climate change, between 1991 and 2012 there were 13,950 peer reviewed climate articles published. Of these only 24 rejected global warming. This translates to a 0.17% occurrence of climate deniers. These documents show there is no lingering debate about climate change in the scientific community.

Articles identify Willie Soon, John R. Christy and Sallie L. Baliunas are frequent writers and deniers affiliated with the George C. Marshall Institute. This institute asserts, “…Efforts to reach agreement on inferences about human influence on the climate system that can be drawn from science and policy prescriptions for addressing the climate change risk have been controversial.”

We also know that Florida officials have banned state government use of offensive terms. We know that the state of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection was ordered to not use the terms ‘climate change’ as well as ‘global warming’. This department has about 3200 employees and a $1.4 billion budget.

While this order was never put on paper, the order was passed down verbally within each organization once republican Rick Scott was elected governor of the state. He is backed by the state’s real estate industry that is afraid of a lessening of demand for the state’s beach property, 30 percent of which is threatened by rising ocean waters in future decades.

We see investigations of the truth all around us. We see this in many ways including leaked documents, Freedom of Information requests, and university disclosures related to studies subsidized by government grants. These methods are being used in a variety of venues. For instance Justin Goodman is using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of the government to find out how U.S. laboratories and university labs are mistreating monkeys and other animals.

These same FOIA requests are being used to seek university and college documents surrounding government funded research on genetically modified (GM) organisms. The US Right to Know organization of Oakland, California is using this procedure. They are asking for copies of emails for example between Michelle McGuire, a nutrition scientist at Washington State University, and some 36 or so organizations and companies. What is being looked for is evidence of collusion between various researchers and the agricultural biotechnology industry.

We all need to know the truth of people’s motivation. Why would they deny knowledge and conviction to the rest of us? They want us to have doubt that leads to hesitation or downright refusal to act. They want to delay us from doing what is right. The question is how do these people rationalize their actions?

We must accept the reasons given by those who sell out to others. Their motivation is personal greed. The questions we have are for those who pay them to lie. How do they look at themselves in the mirror each morning? Do they know how their actions will damage human understanding and progress? Is their motivation just greed?

Why not take their successful companies and reposition them to offer the people of the world products that are relevant to the future not the past. Why not use their considerable resources to help humanity rather than hinder it.  We know that many of them believe they are doing the right thing. They must however, re-examine the evidence and give it the thought it deserves, the thought the rest of humanity deserves.

It is for us to decide. We cannot make a good decision if we have inaccurate information or reasonable doubt. Trying to do what is right will not guarantee agreement. Valid information however, is absolutely necessary to making good decisions. It is the first step to agreement. We applaud all of those truth tellers who are warning us against the foolish delay and the counterproductive results.

Use the following links to obtain more information or access the source documents.

https://cleantechnica.com/2015/09/23/scientists-urge-rico-investigation-of-corporate-climate-deniers/

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-denier-elite-20130912

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate-scientist-oil-company-23022015/

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate-change-papers-exxon-mobil/

http://fcir.org/2015/03/08/in-florida-officials-ban-term-climate-change/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6220/366

http://www.nature.com/news/gm-crop-opponents-expand-probe-into-ties-between-scientists-and-industry-1.18146?wafflebotCursorid=1439158997015738:0:0

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate/climate-change-credibility-12122012/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/22/climate-change-deniers-have-won-global-warming

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dark-money-funds-climate-change-denial-effort/

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