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Potential for GE Mosquitoes to Help Preserve Hawaii’s Native Birds

The potential for genetically engineered mosquitoes to help control diseases has highlighted efforts targeted at Dengue fever and the Zika virus, transmitted to humans. This new report discusses the potential for controlling avian malaria transmitted to Hawaii’s native birds to help prevent their extinction. The application of modern genetic techniques should definitely be examined for use in restoration of what remains of native ecosystems and their amazing creatures.

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The Plan to Rescue Hawaii’s Birds with Genetic Engineering

liwiEcologist Eben Paxton, speaking on a cell phone from somewhere in one of Hawaii’s forests, wanted to talk about the scary events happening on the island of Kauai.

The “bird crash,” he calls it.

Hawaii’s fourth-largest island, says Paxton, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, is seeing a sudden, rapid decline in native birds.

The prime suspect is avian malaria. It’s being spread by mosquitoes and it kills rare birds such as the ‘i’iwi, a bright red honeycreeper with a curvy Dr. Seuss beak. Surveys carried out on the island’s rugged, roadless interior are finding fewer birds than ever before. Extinction for some species looks imminent.

So now a group of government officials, conservationists, and scientists in Hawaii are seriously looking at a high-tech solution: genetically modified mosquitoes.

Read the full article by Antonio Regalado in MIT Technology Review

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