The Fascinating Future of Genetics and Pest Control

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Fascinating Future of Genetics and Pest Control

When you hear the word “genetics” in the context of controlling or changing a species, you probably think it is science fiction. It may seem like something that is too futuristic to be possible right now. But science has been studying ways for humans to use genetics to fight the spread of insect-borne diseases.

Dealing with pesky insects like the mosquito or the medfly has been the cutting edge of studies of pest control through the means of genetic engineering.

Reducing the Population

Anyone who wants to spend time out of doors during the summer months has had to contend with the unpleasant mosquito. Not only are the bites of these insects annoying and irritating, they can carry serious diseases as well. Many people fight off the bugs by way of commercial insect repellents or spray pesticides. But we are all increasingly aware of the potential hazards of these chemicals and how they can affect each of us. So, you should be happy to learn that other methods of reducing the populations of these insects are being explored by science.

One of the earliest used methods of genetic manipulation of insect populations has been that of releasing sterilized males into the wild. When females mate with sterile males, they have no offspring, and this helps reduce a local population. But the scientific studies don’t stop there. After all, this method takes time to have effect. Many studies on genetic engineering in insects have taken a step further. In these approaches, the scientists have engineered sex-related genes that will kill female offspring after the engineered males have “done their business” with wild females. This reduction of the next generation of viable females also helps decrease the general population of the pests.
Related articles

How Far Can We Push It?

At present, most genetic pest control has been done with insects. The challenges of how an ecosystem operates and affects the resident populations make tackling other types of pests a very tall order. A species may adapt to genetic changes that have been introduced and find ways around it. Like the mathematician in Jurassic Park says, “Life finds a way.” So we have to consider that even the simple sterilization method of genetic engineering might have to be adjusted. We also need to be aware that changing the balance in an ecosystem might adversely affect populations that we don’t want to lose – like our honeybees.

Pest Control without Dangerous Chemicals

Even with all these complex considerations, the benefits that genetic engineering can bring to pest control are many. We all want to reduce the possibility of the spread of dangerous diseases that can be carried by insects like the mosquito. The ongoing research in genetic control of insect populations gives us the promise of fewer hazardous chemicals spread out in our environment. That is surely something we all want.

By  Dixie SomersEmbed

Author Bio - Dixie is a freelance writer who loves to write about business, finance and self improvement. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.


Post a Comment