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genetic engineering

Mad Scientists Working to Develop Genetically Engineered Mosquito Repellent

Another example of corporations driving scientific research that directly threatens life on Earth
Genetically-Engineered Bug Repellent--What Will they think of next??

Smell Gene May Help People Hide from Mosquitoes

Thu Sep 2, 3:15 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New insect repellents may work by stopping pesky mosquitoes and flies from sniffing out their prey, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. They found a single gene controls the sense of smell in fruit flies and probably other insects.

"We need better insect repellents to use as weapons against the spread of infectious disease," said Leslie Vosshall, head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at New York's Rockefeller University. "This finding has a direct applied potential," Vosshall added in statement. "Insects are the primary vectors for malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile encephalitis, and they locate human hosts largely through their exquisitely sensitive olfactory systems."

Vosshall and colleagues bred fruit flies that lack a gene known as Or83b. Writing in the journal Neuron, they said the tiny flies had no sense of smell. The Or83b gene is found in a variety of insect species, including mosquitoes, the researchers said.

It may be possible to design a compound that blocks the gene. "Most insect repellents are based on trial and error, or folk remedies," Vosshall said. "Now we have a scientific, rational basis for designing insect repellents."

All creatures that smell detect molecules from the object they are smelling. Specialized cells detect these molecules and in humans and other similar animals they are at the top of the nasal passages. In the fruit fly these detector cells are on the antennae and the maxillary palp, an appendage near the mouth. The cells have receptors, or molecular doorways, designed to attach to the molecules. Many are designed to detect different smells, such as bananas or sweaty feet.

But nearly all the fly smell detector cells have the Or83b receptor, the researchers found to their surprise. The same is true of locusts, mosquitoes, moths, honeybees and Mediterranean fruit flies, Vosshall said. "In all of these insects the gene is found in nearly all the olfactory neurons. The vast majority of cells responsible for smell have it," he said.
Interesting story 03.Sep.2004 15:59


Thanks for this post. Feel free to add it or any other genetic engineering posts to the NW RAGE site at www.nwrage.org. Let's keep our eyes open for the brave new species.

this is NOT, REPEAT NOT insect repellant. 04.Sep.2004 12:27

this thing here

this is just immensely misleading. entirely consistent with the genetic modification industry.

insect "repellant"?

genetically modifying insects so that they do not possess the internal psysiological mechanisms neccessary to detect food is the same as insect repellant? is the same as a chemical spray or lotion applied to the external surface of the human body to repell insects?

this is the same fucked up logic that would modify pigs so that their feces do not have naturally high levels of phosphorous, and therefore when their feces spill from hog farm waste lagoons, they do not cause immense damage to ecosystems, and calling it "hog farm deodorant". as if the pig's feces were the problem, and not industrial hog farming.

this is the same fucked up logic that would spend billions redesinging the human genome so that a new breed of humans would be born having no sweat glands in their armpits, and therefore no body odor, and calling this entire process "deodorant". as if body odor was such a big problem.

the fucking insane vanity of this kind of ill logic. we have the power to make life better and all scientists can do with it is change the LEAST significant of problems, for entirely the wrong reasons. "everyone will look beautiful. everyone will smell good. all women will have perfect breasts. males will be big and strong." to reduce life to this kind of fantasy and somehow see it as a form of progress is just a tragedy beyond belief.

sick and fucked.

entirely consistent with a money soaked industry and it's scientists who sit around all fucking day in their labs and come up with "big new ideas", and who never sit down and actually look out of the windows of their office at the world, the context around them, and wonder if what the hell they're doing is really so great, and really fits the context of life itself, and really comes without any negative effects, and really is ethical, and really is something which is not vain and silly and done for all the wrong reasons.

like changing entire species so that they cannot detect food, whether it's human blood or fruit, and calling it "repellant", when in actuality, it is designed extinction. because if a fruit fly cannot detect fruit, how will it survive? yes, ms. vosshall? maybe think about the bigger picture for once. you change one little thing and never think about the cascade of unintended effects it has. don't zoom in. zoom OUT...

So do these insects just 05.Sep.2004 09:18

buzz around

for a few minutes and then starve to death? If they really want to call it insect repellent they could at least tinker around with what smell it is that hmans produce and mosquitos are so attracted to and then figure out a way to neutralize it. But I guess it's more fun to alter and enitire species.

Trial and error and folk remedies work.