Bill Gates extolls the potential benefits of genetically modified mosquitos in a recent blog. The clever technology may indeed prove beneficial, but Bill Gates has his fingers (and money) stuck in so many technological marvels that risks of error surely mount. How far will he fly toward the sun before all humanity is scorched by his melting wings?
Genetically modifying mosquitos to become weapons against their kind has been underway for years, with proven success. The creepy mosquito modifications are employed in male mosquitos only, who are then released into wild populations to mate. Impregnated females are infertile or yield female larvae that fail to reach maturity, reducing malaria. The mutated strain eventually dies out – the females cannot reproduce.
In the billionaire’s latest blog, the merits of a new manmade mosquito are touted. Gates hails the “genetic Technology” of Oxitec to engineer a new mutated mosquito, gushing: “To end malaria, we need many new tools and innovations to reduce the burden of this disease and move the world closer to eradication.” Such high aspirations are laudable, but the rush to “new tools and innovations” is where Mr. Gates flies too close for Icarian comfort to the sun. His “new tools” in the name of health include controversial mRNA vaccines, food preservatives (APEEL), chalk to block the sun, and synthetic meat (He owns some patents, and lots of farmland to grow soy).
The Gates Foundation awarded Oxitec $5.8 million in grants beginning in 2018, essentially subcontracting the Frankensteinian task of genetically manufacturing new strains of designer mosquitos – one of which was nick-named “Friendly.” But there is reason to fear genetic tampering, even if the Frankensquitos are effective. Indeed, their success might imbue Gates and other stargazers with a hazardous overconfidence in future ventures.
Does Bill Gates Fly Too Close to the Sun?
Throughout history, man has sought miraculous cures and alms in many forms, from morphing lead into gold to creating a perpetual motion machine. Human eyes are easily dazzled by techno-promises, and the theme of hubris that mythology and religious texts have echoed through the ages is unheeded by the world’s Gateses. If ever there were a modern Icarus, it would be Bill Gates the computer geek.
It might be that one of these unnatural mosquitos carries an undetected additional trait, mutates, or breeds in some unanticipated way. Genetic mutations of plants (one recent genetic freakshow splices porcine DNA with soy), fetal tissue tampering (for designer human organs, or of bovine fetal tissue to grow fake meats), hormones and chemicals, blending frog DNA with who-knows-what … these and other modern real-life forays into the realm of science fiction threaten to one day usher in a horror show instead.
Thalidomide was touted as safe for pregnant women; Agent Orange was sprayed on troops; radon was used to measure foot size; oxycontin was hailed as non-addictive. The list of human errors in technology is long and growing, yet the techno-mystics glowingly exalt their futurist visions, undaunted. Nations are battling natural invasive plants and pests in a globalized world. What mutant plant, insect, or human will the new gods of bioengineering procure? Will they employ gain-of-function technology and fabricate a deadly virus and pandemic?
Bill Gates would never dream of such a thing … As to mosquitos, he appears to acknowledge the risks of this technology in his August 14 blog, providing a less-than-reassuring comfort:
“Genetic technology like Oxitec’s understandably raises many questions. Is it safe? What are the lasting environmental impacts? Here’s what’s important to know: After evaluating the potential risk of genetically modified mosquitoes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and the EPA in 2022 have confirmed that the Oxitec mosquitoes do not pose a threat to humans or the environment.”
If only Mr. Gates secured the USDA’s and CDC’s confirmation as well, and perhaps Dr. Fauci’s – then Americans could know for certain to be terrified. By definition, all of humanity’s past technological follies have received the imprimatur of so-called experts. Mr. Gates assures us that re-tooled mosquitos are (like mRNA vaccines) safe and effective.
In 1867, a French immigrant in Massachusetts named Etienne Leopold Trouvelot managed to import gypsy moth caterpillars to his home for cross-breeding with silkworms. Trouvelet sought a breed of silkworm caterpillar that birds wouldn’t eat. The trouble is they escaped. By 1889 the gypsy moth had become a scourge in Medford, Massachusetts. These caterpillars are afoot still, expanding across the continent at about 12.6 miles per year. Much slower than modern GMOs (genetically modified organisms), but still inexorable, irreversible, and destructive.
In seeking the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, mankind has habitually crafted machinations with destructive impacts often unforeseen. Mapping human DNA, creating new plants and animals, and growing food from fetal tissues is The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Soilent Green freaky, yet this is the stuff of pomp and boast for Bill Gates and other techno-mystics.
An eerie comment stands out in the billionaire’s mosquito-plugging blog:
“Thank you Bill Gates and the entire team for making such effort to brighten not only Africa, but the entire world.
“Your work will never be forgotten. Let all the generations to come seal your names in their hearts, for you are the true heroes of our time.
“Keep up the good fight, and may God forgive you if by any chance you crushed which was not meant to be crushed in an effort to make the world a better place.”
Generations to come may not seal the Gates name in their hearts as a “true hero of our time” if in time a single misstep in his various visionary ventures unleashes a Trouvelotian legacy of some new creation, whether plant, insect, or virus. Those science fiction fantasy horrors knock at humanity’s door, aided and abetted by AI – itself a brave new world of possible irrevocable errancies. Imagine the upcoming gene engineering of humans for designer kiddies, spliced with 2001: A Space Odyssey’s “Hal.”
The world must not be overly skeptical of the possibilities of new technologies. Even so, Bill Gates’ techno-idolatry embraces a foolish, grandiose optimism. The technology employed to alter mosquitos is called Genetically Altered Drives, a step beyond other modification techniques, and it may not always be so “friendly.” Given the highly dubious track record Gates has on vaccines, GMOs, and synthetic meats, the world must pray that his philanthropic efforts do not “by any chance crush that which was not meant to be crushed.”
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