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    Thread: Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Being Released into the Wild

    1. #26
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      Touche

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    2. #27
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      I don't claim to be a know it all Xei, that's your job. I don't claim to be an expert in their field. All I'm saying is they're focusing so hard on their field they're losing sight of the bigger picture. They may understand how genetic modification works but do they even fathom the fragility of the ecosystem?
      Why do you think you know more about this than somebody whose entire career is literally about biological populations? Do you think population dynamics is something only hippies are aware of or something? Scientists are extremely aware of these topics.

      Ecosystems aren't 'fragile'; in fact nature is best characterised as being extremely robust. We're talking about something which has made short work of global cataclysms. If you delete a species of mosquito, if there are any species whose niche is solely dependent on that species of mosquito (unlikely), they will die. That will be it, however. The entire ecosystem will not collapse like some kind of tower of pennies, because ecosystems are not built at all like that. And a different set of organisms will quickly spill into any empty niche anyway.

      Here is some actual science: Ecology: A world without mosquitoes : Nature News

    3. #28
      Finding the way... Arch's Avatar
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      Why not engineer them to not carry the harmful diseases they carry (just malaria?). Or is that far more complex than this? That way it wouldn't affect the ecosystem at all and people would just have to live with annoying bites.

    4. #29
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      Or just drink tonic water.

      But yeah I was reading about some research recently where they were trying to modify mosquitoes so they would die or become infertile if they carried malaria, or something like that. I spose that would work better.

    5. #30
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      So Xei and cmind. Are either of you honestly claiming that mosquitos are not an essential part of most ecosystems that they're present in?
      Evolution is not an intelligent process, and thus it can make mistakes. Those mistakes are rooted out quickly on evolutionary timescales, but those timescales may still be hundreds or thousands of years. Some species really are superfluous. For example, what possible ecological purpose could the tapeworm have?

    6. #31
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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      Evolution is not an intelligent process, and thus it can make mistakes. Those mistakes are rooted out quickly on evolutionary timescales, but those timescales may still be hundreds or thousands of years. Some species really are superfluous. For example, what possible ecological purpose could the tapeworm have?
      We don't change these things with evolutionary timescales? Therefore our impact is much larger as the 'rooting out' won't occur. Anyway, it seems pointless making these die as it will not affect past the second generation it seems.

    7. #32
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Why do you think you know more about this than somebody whose entire career is literally about biological populations? Do you think population dynamics is something only hippies are aware of or something? Scientists are extremely aware of these topics.

      Ecosystems aren't 'fragile'; in fact nature is best characterised as being extremely robust. We're talking about something which has made short work of global cataclysms. If you delete a species of mosquito, if there are any species whose niche is solely dependent on that species of mosquito (unlikely), they will die. That will be it, however. The entire ecosystem will not collapse like some kind of tower of pennies, because ecosystems are not built at all like that. And a different set of organisms will quickly spill into any empty niche anyway.

      Here is some actual science: Ecology: A world without mosquitoes : Nature News
      The ecosystem would recover, yes, but several species would be severely threatened in the process, and this would set off a chain of events that would ripple through the ecosystem. History is full of humans ignorantly assuming screwing with the ecosystem would have no lasting effect and the tragic consequences of those assumptions.

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      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 01-05-2012 at 06:11 PM.
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    8. #33
      Xei
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      Well, exactly. It's not an issue of humans destroying nature, it's an issue of humans negatively affecting nature according to their own values; and eradicating malaria is certainly not a negative event for humans. As to whether it would cause any ecological harm to humans: there's no evidence of that.

    9. #34
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      Well no, there's no evidence and I never said there was. I was just saying that based on history, humans are not exactly well known for exercising caution in regards to ecological manipulation and that we have suffered consequences for our impunity. We have more or less learned to stop introducing foreign species into new ecosystems (though money continues to motivate this occurrence) but I don't think we're considering the possible ripple from substantially reducing a native population. All I'm saying is I don't think enough research has been done to properly gauge the possible effect. I don't think it's even possible to understand the complexity of a species' role in the ecosystem.

      But as Alric pointed at, this mosquito thing isn't even worth bitching about compared to our pesticide addiction.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    10. #35
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      They already kill the mosquitoes in large number though, often by spraying chemicals all over the area, which then kills other stuff too. If your going to kill stuff off, you are better off using something that kills just that animal, instead of a wide band attack that kills everything in an area, and has far larger side effects.

    11. #36
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well, exactly. It's not an issue of humans destroying nature, it's an issue of humans negatively affecting nature according to their own values; and eradicating malaria is certainly not a negative event for humans. As to whether it would cause any ecological harm to humans: there's no evidence of that.
      That article you posted from Nature said that it would harm a lot of different species, including one fish which feeds exclusively on those mosquitoes.
      How can you really assert that it would definitely not affect anything else?
      If you had the button to push that would kill all mosquitoes, can you really say that you'd be confident enough in the minimal research done to push it?

      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      Evolution is not an intelligent process, and thus it can make mistakes. Those mistakes are rooted out quickly on evolutionary timescales, but those timescales may still be hundreds or thousands of years. Some species really are superfluous. For example, what possible ecological purpose could the tapeworm have?
      How can something not intelligent have a purpose? The tapeworm is just evolution.
      It exists for itself, just like everything else.

      Or do you mean a purpose for humans? Or keeping the entire ecosystem together? Or.... what?

    12. #37
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      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      Or keeping the entire ecosystem together? Or.... what?
      This. Some people in this thread would have us believe that losing any species is bad for the ecosystem, humans, or both. But that's demonstrably false.

    13. #38
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      So, something only has a purpose if it plays a major role in the ecosystem?
      How many other species have to rely on one particular species for it to be important or have a purpose?

    14. #39
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      Evolution is not intelligent, but over time it develops dependencies making it interconnected. Even if a species is a parasite, if it has existed for long enough it's safe to say other species will form a dependency.
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    15. #40
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      So, something only has a purpose if it plays a major role in the ecosystem?
      How many other species have to rely on one particular species for it to be important or have a purpose?
      The value system goes like this: mosquitoes kill millions of people, therefore let's get rid of them.
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    16. #41
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      That's beside the point I was making though.

    17. #42
      Xei
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      You were asking what gives species value in ecological terms. The answer in the context of this thread is that nobody was appealing to the mosquitoes' 'inter reliance' or lack thereof in the first place, they were valuing them on the basis that they cause mass human suffering.

    18. #43
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      No, I wasn't really asking anything. I was pointing out the flaw in cmind's post.

    19. #44
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      You were asking what gives species value in ecological terms. The answer in the context of this thread is that nobody was appealing to the mosquitoes' 'inter reliance' or lack thereof in the first place, they were valuing them on the basis that they cause mass human suffering.
      Besides, humans would suffer a lot more if they damaged the ecosystem to the point where they could no longer sustain themselves.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    20. #45
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      The chance of humans damaging the ecosystem to the point where they could no longer sustain them self is very unlikely. You forget that humans basically destroy the ecosystem in most places they live, especially in cities. Sure, some insect survive, and some small animals like squirrels or rats survive, but for the most part when humans come in and build a city they destroy nearly the entire ecosystem in that area. Tons of plants are just wiped, all larger animals are wiped out, most smaller animals are wiped out as well. Paving a street with asphalt kind of kills everything.

      Relatively speaking, killing a ton of mosquito isn't any where near as damaging as building a city.

    21. #46
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      I can't say for certain what a dramatic reduction in a population would do. I'm also not promoting the action because I don't know the consequences of it.

      I also don't support development nor deforestation, saying we're doing something worse already doesn't make me any more optimistic about our constant interest in fucking with nature.

      I believe we will eradicate large numbers of our population if this behavior were to go too far, but I don't feel like making this thread about climate change and I do admit it's unlikely humans, specifically, would see any large scale consequences to this action.
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    22. #47
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      I don't mind mosquitos until they inhabit areas I'm occupying. Then I turn into a mass murderer.
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    23. #48
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      I would expect as much. When they're just killing thousands of people in third world countries, they're ok?
      Last edited by PhilosopherStoned; 01-07-2012 at 11:55 PM.
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    24. #49
      khh
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      You can't really compare releasing genetically engineered mosquito with building a city. While the city might decimate the ecosystem where it's built, it won't naturally spread elsewhere.
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    25. #50
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      Quote Originally Posted by khh View Post
      You can't really compare releasing genetically engineered mosquito with building a city. While the city might decimate the ecosystem where it's built, it won't naturally spread elsewhere.
      A gene that kills organisms after one generation is unlikely to spread much further than the immediate area it is released. Unless of course something goes wrong.

      We aren't all black/white/whatever either, even though the entirety of Africa's population is black.

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