India may soon be free from mosquitoes that spread deadly diseases like malaria and dengue.
A host of genetically engineered mosquitoes are set to be released in the country to stop the real mosquitoes from spreading the disease.
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, will visit India on Monday. His visit is set to pave the way to help India create its own genetically engineered mosquitoes, according to reports.
This technology was developed in the UK. The RIDL technology, developed in an Oxford-based lab, is all set to introduce in India, that helps to combat certain types of disease spreading mosquitoes.
The technology has been developed by a firm named Oxitec, who have also named their discovery after their firm. This Oxitec is basically a mosquito, which means a bunch of mosquitoes that are similar to the Aedes Aegypti (species of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya) is being brought to India.
In normal circumstances, that would sound like a really scary prospect. However, the mosquitoes that are being brought to India are genetically engineered, named Oxitec.
The Oxitec are primarily male mosquitoes, very similar to the Aedes Aegypti. However, there are primarily two genetic changes made to their DNA, which makes them non-lethal to humans.
As they are male mosquitoes, they would not bite humans anyway. When released into the wild, these mosquitoes would go out and mate with the wild Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.
The special genes in the Oxitec mosquitoes would get passed on to the offspring. As a direct result of these two genes, the offspring dies before they are ready to reproduce, thus reducing the chance of spreading any disease.
"The dengue mosquito lives in and around the home and is known for being difficult to control," said Hadyn Parry, the CEO at Oxitec, to The Times of India. "Conventional methods currently in use have shown themselves to be insufficient to prevent the spread of the disease."
However, this also raises a humanitarian question about creating a genetically modified creature that would one day wipe out entire species of mosquitoes. However, with the alarming number of people who die from these diseases, it is not surprising that the people are more than willing to take up this measure of irradiating these mosquitoes, rather than using toxic chemicals to kill them.