Genetic Manipulation: How far should we go?
There has been much discussed in the scientific community about the possible side-effects of genetic manipulation in insects and animals. The principle (in the video above) is that we can edit the genetic template of a species to introduce, for example, a kill switch that would allow us to selectively introduce a strain which would, over time, eradicate an invasive species. This promises a cure for malaria and many other grail-like gems.
However, the downside is equally scary, as movies such as Jurassic World have entertained us with. Mixing different genetic materials into an ‘animate’ species (forget for the moment we have been doing this with plants for a while and still don’t know the long-term effect of ingesting such foreign matter) has a knock-on effect on the ecosystem around them. Further, insects can easily be transported accidentally across international boundaries and introduce their new traits in foreign and unexpected parts, potentially decimating an ecosystem that was not intended to be affected.
Despite the cautions discussed in the video, and the hesitance of doing anything crazy like playing god with other species, we appear to already be going ahead with multiple programmes. Here are a few recent examples.
Google's parent company Alphabet has been caught developing 20 million genetically modified mosquitos with plans to release them in the U.S.
Biotech company Oxitec has released genetically engineered diamondback moths in New York as part of an outdoor trial, and New Yorkers are mad.
The conspiracist in the posts suggests that there is an agenda to depopulate the world and this has cropped up in several releases on the alt-web. I can’t speak for that, but the fact that we’re playing with the entire ecosystem by taking a step up from plants to animals and insects is massively irresponsible in my opinion. We can’t model the weather, we can’t model the environment. Why do we think we can model the biosphere? Even ‘natural’ cross-breeding doesn’t always play out so well (see article below), so how will this play out when we introduce other genes from other species, like coral, plants, animals, etc?