tech

Scientists debate promise, peril of tweaking wild genomes

14 Comments
By Jordi ZAMORA

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14 Comments
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Bringing the mammoth back presents less of a threat than artificial extinction. Everything has its role in our ecosystem. Even wasps. Fiddling with this sort of thing usually goes wrong - cane toads in Australia being a good example. GM flora and fauna will escape just like farmed fish do, even from islands. I expect this sort of thing to end badly.

One thing that is an absolute requirement is real culpability. If you play any part in a decision that leads to ecological havoc, you should surrender your assets towards the compensation claims and turn yourself in to spend a period in prison, the length dependant upon the amount of damage your decision has led to. And that includes consequential damage from any accidental escapes. It's an extension of 'the polluter pays', and if it isn't included, environmental activists will have a moral duty to step into the breach and enforce it in any way they are able to. No free passes just because you have a government license, you are wearing a white coat and you thought it was a good idea at the time. You take responsibility for your interventions.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Stop screwing around with nature.

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What could go wrong? I mean, it’s not like we would create some virus that would alter our way of life or anything…..

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I would enjoy taking my mammoth for a walk, but changing the litter..... no thanks. They are battling Zika with a modified mosquito, and that seems okay, but some other ideas for mucking about seem risky. I don’t think the process is bad, but not thinking things through could have serious consequences.

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@Sam - just about spit out my coffee on that one. I read it with the English dry humour delivery.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If mosquitos could be genetically engineered to not host nasty diseases like Zika, malaria and heartworm in dogs, I would applaud long and loud. Not eliminate mosquitos entirely but eliminate their ability to carry and transmit specific deadly diseases. But someone please tell me what beneficial role mosquitos play in the environment. It seems their sole purpose is to be disease carriers.

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GM flora and fauna will escape just like farmed fish do, even from islands. I expect this sort of thing to end badly.

The whole point is that modified organisms should spread around and make that specific species extinct, this can have unexpected effects, which is why a lot of people are saying it should be made as carefully and gradually as possible (including stopping in some cases), but escaping by itself is not one of the dangers but an intended mechanism.

Not eliminate mosquitos entirely but eliminate their ability to carry and transmit specific deadly diseases.

There is no need to eliminate all mosquitoes, there are many species that do not transmit diseases or even feed on humans, eliminating one of the dangerous species would mean another would take its ecological place (except on the part where it kills humans).

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

What could go wrong? I mean, it’s not like we would create some virus that would alter our way of life or anything…..

Indeed, I would have thought they learned their lesson with SARSCoV-2, but apparently not (and even that one wasn't their first disaster. There may always be some consequences that the researchers involved with the project have not unexpected or simply choose to ignore...

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I guess Surfers and Surf shops around the Australian coastline would like some genetic modifications made to Sharks.

Popular driven genetic tweaks could be a thing of the future.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Didn't we learn anything from the Wuhan fiasco?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Indeed, I would have thought they learned their lesson with SARSCoV-2

Didn't we learn anything from the Wuhan fiasco?

Mismanagement and hiding of emerging diseases has nothing to do with tweaking genomes, if anything the very opportune development of the vaccines has bee only possible thanks to the modification of natural coronavirus genomes that allowed to understand what were the best antigens to target and how effective would the immune response would be.

If anything the pandemic is an argument on favor and not against tweaking genomes. at least for people that do not depend on believing science fiction movies are real.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

if anything the very opportune development of the vaccines has bee only possible thanks to the modification of natural coronavirus genomes that allowed to understand what were the best antigens to target and how effective would the immune response would be.

Wonderful, let's be thankful for the gain of function research for helping the development of vaccines against the pandemic they created. It's like thanking an arsonist for bringing a fire extinguisher to help put out the fire he created.

Regardless, that research contributed little to the development of the vaccines in use today.

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Wonderful, let's be thankful for the gain of function research for helping the development of vaccines against the pandemic they created

Zoonosis will happen as long as humans interact with animals and their environment, it happened for this pandemic as it has happened countless times in history, imagining it has happened in other ways even against the evidence that indicates much more strongly the natural occurrence makes no sense, the same as thinking the whole basis for the development of safe and effective vaccines means "little".

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There is no need to eliminate all mosquitoes, there are many species that do not transmit diseases or even feed on humans, eliminating one of the dangerous species would mean another would take its ecological place (except on the part where it kills humans).

Sigh, I just wanted to see the part that makes them able to host Zika, malaria and heartworm changed. Aside from malaria and Zika, you haven't seen the problems heartworm causes in dogs from just one mosquito bite. We adopted a young doggie earlier this year who turned out to be infected before we brought him home. We will cure him, he's only 1 1/2 and very strong plus we caught the infection really early, but it's no fun for the dog as they must be on exercise restriction. No running or walks for a young herding breed. He is not liking it! Leaving it untreated is a certain ugly death. By December he should be back on a leash.

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