Dengue fever, which aff licts from fifty thousand to almost four hundred million people in tropical regions annually, is said to be an infectious disease caused by the mosquito-borne dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small number of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. Current efforts to control the disease focus on the eradication of mosquito breeding grounds, (with no recognition of possible nutritional causes). The genetic engineers have come up with a new idea—the release of hundreds of thousands of mosquitos genetically engineered to produce sterile offspring. In 2015, researchers plan to release millions of male mosquitoes in a village in Panama. “Many concerns about GM organisms are that we are letting a genie out of a bottle, that once released you can’t put them back,” said Dr. Andrew McKenny of the research team. “The beauty in this system is what we are releasing has a deleterious trait.” In spite of the hype, many scientists remain skeptical. “There are risks to releasing insects that have genetic modifications,” said Thomas Walker from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “When you eradicate the mosquito population, you also eradicate part of the food chain. Mosquitoes are prey for a large variety of predators” (The London Times, February 5, 2014). For an example of the role mosquitos can play in the food chain, Google “mosquito hamburger.”
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2014.