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Mark Benedict's blog

Do scientists want to conduct their research without oversight and public engagement?

February 1, 2012 - 13:41 -- Mark Benedict

The openness of scientists involved in the creation of genetic control methods against mosquitoes has been questioned in popular press and activist outlets. Therefore the results of a recent survey on this subject deserve attention. Do scientists want to conduct their research without oversight and public engagement?

Seeing Red in Molecular Biology Labs

January 1, 2012 - 11:08 -- Mark Benedict

Quick question: For those of you who work in a recombinant DNA lab, what is the most hazardous chemical that you use on a daily basis? To put it another way, what chemical do you ALWAYS wear gloves to handle? Probably the same one that I do, but risk perception and reality aren’t always the same thing.

 

When it comes to genetic control of mosquitoes, risks are a hot topic, so it’s useful to consider the answer to this question.

 

The Truth About GM Mosquitoes Is Not Enough

November 14, 2011 - 18:25 -- Mark Benedict

Can we be confident that if we get the facts out that genetic control of mosquitoes will be accepted for testing to prevent diseases? In the face of anti-GM activists, scientists have their hands tied by an intractable force – a professional demand to simply present the facts. Should scientists become more persuasive by becoming activists?

 

Persistence Pays: piggyBac Remobilization in Anopheles

October 13, 2011 - 11:52 -- Mark Benedict
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Dave O’brochta of the University of Maryland has long insisted that merely developing the capacity to perform germline transformation of mosquitoes is not enough to claim a full-blown forward-genetic manipulation system. However, once transposable elements and vectors were available for Aedes and Anopheles, the enthusiasm for developing fundamentally new information about germline transformation waned – at least for many who would use it. Not for all though.

 

They’re off – and running? Dengue resistant Aedes aegypti

September 22, 2011 - 16:41 -- Mark Benedict

Hoffmann et al. recently reported a highly noteworthy establishment of Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti in two Australian towns. With the potential to greatly reduce the dengue risk in these communities, this bio-control is a remarkable demonstration of the potential for heritable factors to interfere with disease. The project is off to a great start. The big question is, can the technology finish the race? And how much push will be required to make it happen? I’ll make my prediction about where this is headed.

Hot or hot air? Media acclaim of gene drive in a mosquito

April 29, 2011 - 16:36 -- Mark Benedict
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You’ve probably noticed that the number of pages in newspapers and science journals does not expand and contract much while the importance of underlying news stories varies wildly. So is the hoopla surrounding the recent report of a demonstration of gene drive in mosquitoes about something hot or just a bunch of hot air? I’ll tell you what I think.

Let it snow: field-testing malaria-refractory strains by inundation

January 24, 2011 - 18:54 -- Mark Benedict

In July of 2010, the Mike Riehle lab reported that they had created a transgenic strain of Anopheles stephensi that was refractory to malaria (first author Corby-Harris (here and here). However, as they noted, there is no way to spread the transgene into wild populations thus making this an important laboratory finding waiting for an undeveloped drive mechanism. I’ll argue that this provides an opportunity rather than a hurdle. How? Read on.

Happy New Year! Getting serious about GMO risks in 2011

January 1, 2011 - 23:34 -- Mark Benedict

As a gift to start 2011, I thought I’d help the anti-GMO-no-way-no-how folks with a critique of their arguments, and I’ll offer some real meat for them with which they might get greater respect. Let’s start 2011 by establishing some common ground.

 

 

Short flight for mosquitoes; giant step for genetic control

November 4, 2010 - 22:50 -- Mark Benedict

In a recent blog, I congratulated Oxitec on the first release of transgenic Aedes aegypti for control purposes on Grand Cayman (GC) in the Caribbean. At that time, the results had not been made public. Today (4-Nov-2010), further information was released at the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene meeting in Atlanta, USA. Well, were those transgenic males up to the task?

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