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ANA, Burkina Faso — This small village of mud-brick homes in West Africa might seem the least likely place for an experiment at the frontier of biology.

Yet scientists here are engaged in what could be the most promising, and perhaps one of the most frightening, biological experiments of our time. They are preparing for the possible release of swarms of mosquitoes that, until now, have been locked away in a research lab behind double metal doors and guarded 24/7.

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  • Given their numbers, it’s hard not to imagine they will adjust; that the females may sense sterility, and show preference for vital males. A vaccination would be better, though getting rid of the nasty little things is great too, just from the annoyance factor. I have a little machine that invites them in and dries them out. I catch hundreds at a time in Costa Rica with it. It could be run by solar I think, comes on automatically when it’s dark. They should pass them out in Africa.

  • I was thinking about a gene drive for ticks to eradicate Lyme. Then I saw the Nantucket story. Well done. Years from now perhaps you will be doing a follow up on the success of the endeavor.

    • I read that if mosquitoes were eradicated, nothing much would change. I’m all for it, as I find nothing likable about them, and I have tried. I find their flight patterns fascinating for example, as they drop in mid air to evade attacks in a way that should interest military air plane designers. Still I hate them totally.

    • Why would it make a species extinct? If all the wild anopheles mosquitoes died in two years and we saw some unexpected consequence, we could just release a stored quantity of unaltered anopheles mosquitoes back in the wild and after 2 years they would all be back.
      We sit in our ivory towers free of anopheles mosquito diseases and debate the ethics of eradicating the wild anopheles mosquitoes and the diseases they carry while literally millions of children and adults die every year from Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, St. Louis Encephalitis, LaCrosse Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, among others. While other anopheles mosquito diseases kill our dogs and livestock.
      If all life is valuable do you condem the eradication of smallpox?
      It’s time to think about the moral and ethical ramifications of letting all those millions of people die!

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