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Environmental Engineering Could Offer Sustainable Approach To Malaria Elimination

Scientific American: Africa Doesn’t Need Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
Ify Aniebo, molecular geneticist, senior research scientist at the Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation, Takemi fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and 2016 Aspen Institute New Voices fellow

“Some scientists have proposed genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes as a solution to controlling malaria, a scourge that has been around for centuries and is spread by mosquitoes. I am skeptical that this is the answer. … Supporters of the technology consider it a huge step forward in the war against mosquitoes and by extension, vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika. Critics of the idea, however, say it is dangerous to manipulate the DNA of any animal, and that experimentation could bring disastrous consequences that are yet unknown. … While innovations in science have been important in controlling malaria in Africa, they should never be the only focus. Sanitary engineering; getting rid of mosquito breeding sites; and swamp drainage are some of the interventions that have helped in the past and have proven to be sustainable solutions. Why spend billions of dollars on developing genetically modified insects when the money could be directed towards environmental engineering projects that hinder the ability of mosquitoes to breed in the first place? The latter is a long-term and sustainable approach and should not be ignored if we are very serious about malaria elimination” (11/13).