I got interested in the microcephaly (being blamed on Zika virus) GM link when someone posted a picture of the incidence of microcephaly and the site where the GM mosquitoes were released in Brazil. Who would have thought it but the two were pretty much in the same place..!
Now, only the most brazenly stupid would think that playing God with mosquitoes wouldn't have the potential for unintended consequences; after-all the blood-suckers are annoyingly critical parts in many food chains. Well, apparently this blogger thought not.
Her post: 'No, GM mosquitoes did not cause Zika epidemic' is so inaccurate that it verges on the embarrassing... for a science journal anyway. Her first, and critical mistake, is to confuse Zika virus cases with microcephaly cases when the link hasn't been made.
So I left a few replies and then pretty quickly a bunch of people started replying. The replies turned ad hominem pretty fast and then I started to wonder who these people were so I looked at their profiles. One of the bloggers had 2 500 posts on Disqus of which ALL of them, exclusively, were saying how great GM was! When I started to ask who they were things turned even nastier culminating in threats of character assassination.
Moonlighting for whom I wonder?
Of course, the biotech industry is known to pay people to blog.
But, back to the science. Is Christie Wilcox even right, does she know her science?
The answer is sadly: 'no'. The article is so full of mistakes and pre-suppositions it's actually embarrassing. Like I said her first mistake is confusing Zika with microcephaly; it's not a proven link. Even if it was proven then it still doesnt answer why it's suddenly causing these enormous birth defects... out of nowhere.
You see Zika, historically, doesn't really cause this effect. It's ben around in Africa for years and had epidemics elsewhere and no-one has ever noticed these birth defects before.
What has caused this epidemic of babies with small heads? Is it that the virus has suddenly mutated in just this small corner of Brazil, or is it something else? Good epidemiology would ask the question: What has changed there recently?
So, contrary to what the bloggers title states; the GM mosquitoes are far from blameless. In fact the GM mosquitoes actually take centre stage now, they are the number one suspect.
Something has changed in that small corner of Brazil to suddenly create an intense epidemic of an incredibly rare disease; and the most obvious thing is that 'mad' scientists have just released mutant, chimeric mosquitoes laced with herpes virus to see what happens. Maybe we are finding out...
And what is the solution they are recommending for this..?
You guessed it, more GM mosquitoes.
Mwa ha ha!