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CRISPR machines that can wipe out entire species (cnet.com)
73 points by eaguyhn 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments

It's horrible that people are dying because of malaria. I'm a bit divided on this approach though, I don't know enough about the topic at hand to suggest a different approach, but let me try.

Would it be feasible to suggest using CRISP to create another adaptation to the gene, one that preserves the mosquitoes but makes them unable to transfer the disease to humans?

Eliminating a species because we don't like it reminds me of speciesism as Peter Singer outlines in one of his books. (Animal Liberation I believe it was). Where humans assume another species to be inferior and have less of a right to live a decent life.

I do think it's a normal response to value human life more. And in fact, I also do think that in this case it makes more sense to safe the humans if no other approach is viable..

The article mentions they tried to engineer mosquitos to not carry malaria, but it made them weak and so natural selection favored the non-engineered mosquitoes.

As for the rest, yeah tricky business. By all accounts we have more value than a mosquito, but as you move up the food chain what are the unintended consequences?

What about the effect of existing anti-mosquito measures? We aren't exactly using pleasant chemicals for that.

It is indeed horrible, and it is fantastic that so many resources are dedicated to find a solution to this travesty!

Eliminating entire species deliberately, on the other hand, isn't really better. Yes, there is the us vs. them dilemma, and of course we should favour our own species if there's no other option, but this should be used as a last resort only.

I wonder if there's anyone looking into using similar methods to make humans malaria resistant instead.

You'd open up another heap of ethical issues if we were to try adapting humans in such a way. Like the CRISPR babies that were born in China.

Indeed, but which is preferable? Genetic vaccination against malaria or extinction of an entire species who are also a victim of the same parasite?

Both can potentially have unintended and disastrous consequences hundreds of years into the future.

Some interesting prior discussion in this older comment thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15929339

My understanding is that out of 3,500 mosquito species, only about 40 transmit malaria. Most of what I've read from experts implies they're not sure that mosquitoes play any biologically important role at all, and it seems like if there is some role (other than killing humans), the other 99% of non-eradicated mosquito species could fill in that gap.

In my (decidedly non-expert) opinion, that's good enough to start making moves towards eradicating the mosquito-causing species.

> Eliminating a species because we don't like it reminds me of speciesism

How about eliminating them because they are killing us, literally by the millions? Viewed that way, it seems more like normal self-defense to me. Currently mosquito-borne diseases kill around 700,000 people each year; this figure does not include the cost to society of the people who become ill but later recover. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito

Where humans assume another species to be inferior and have less of a right to live a decent life.

How about if you consider things like bacteria? The rabbit-hole of "speciesism" never ends...

People are also dying of war and hunger and lack of clean water and medicine. I would even argue that those are the bigger problems and the deaths of malaria are more symptoms of the former problems. Usually, it ain't the rich people who die of malaria.

So I would focus in those problems instead of trying to inject suicide genes into the wild.

I like the saying: the opposite of well done, is well intented.

>People are also dying of war and hunger and lack of clean water and medicine.

No one can fix this with a snap of their fingers. You have to reform (replace?) governments, change cultural standards around sanitation, build tons of infrastructure. No matter how much aid is sent, it will take a long time even in the best case. These problems won't be fixed for good in the near future.

Perhaps malaria can be made a thing of the past before then. If so, don't let hundreds of thousands die because we "should" be fixing poverty instead.

"Perhaps malaria can be made a thing of the past before then."

Perhaps along with the last remaining shreds of intact eco systems that remained. Oh and perhaps some suicide genes end up somewhere else.

DDT is still being used for mosquito control, because the risks and ecological damage are deemed to be less important than the half million people per year dying of malaria.

Millions of lives currently depend on reducing mosquito populations, so methods of control will be used no matter what. Targeting a specific species of mosquito rather than spraying DDT everywhere will reduce the collateral damage to the environment immensely.

DDT is bad. But its effect is limited to the amount of used chemical.

Altering genomes of living organisms with the intention of wiping out a species ... has a potential unlimited side effect.

I especially like the second example: fighting the toad in australia. Originally the toad was brought in to mess with the local ecosystem ... then it messed too much and now the solution is altering the genome with a exponentional bigger impact.

Isn't that real live satire? I mean how could that possible go wrong, since we understand everything about ecosystems and the genome today and are masters about controlling complex systems ...

Sounds like youre suggesting creating a mosquito malaria vaccine

Not entirely - I'm suggesting still altering the species but not with extinction as a consequence.

I agree, a vaccine would be one way to accomplish that

I like to paste this awesome response from reddit whenever someone doubts these approaches (since I couldn’t put it better myself)

> Malaria is only carried by a tiny number of mosquito species. Of the thousands of species only something like a dozen actually matter to humans. We can target exactly the ones we want and even better : nothing stops us from maintaining a population in some labs somewhere. If it turns out they matter in any significant way, contrary to various impact analysis... we just release them back into the environment.

> The current cost of not wiping out those few mosquito species is about half a million dead children. Imagine that someone was nuking a mid sized American city every year and you could stop it right now but you'd prefer to wait for a slightly more athsteticly pleasing solution.

> How much blood would you be willing to let stain your soul .


What exactly do you mean by "Of the thousands of species only something like a dozen actually matter to humans." How sure are you?

Keep in mind that, in this case, extinction is a side effect of another antimalarial effort.

Well we know only certain species carry malaria. Is that what you’re questioning?

Also Seems like you skipped over this part:

> nothing stops us from maintaining a population in some labs somewhere. If it turns out they matter in any significant way, contrary to various impact analysis... we just release them back into the environment.

I was mostly interested in the "matters to humans" part. Indirect consequences, and all that.

...Re-releasing them, after the environment has adjusted to their absence, does not return you to the original state.

We have to learn first how to de-extinct a species.

The cascade of known, expected and unexpected comsequences from wiping mosquitoes could be enough to distroy the economy of entire countries.

And is so easy to think in believable sceneries that is astonishing to see people repeating again the mantra that nothing is proved and nothing will happen.

Wiping mosquitoes in Africa could affect profoundly Europe, for example.

The same birds that save harvests in Europe each year, pass the winter in Africa. Finding some alternative food, here and there, is not the same as "finding enough fuel to not die in the return". Do we really want to start an experiment that could lead to Europe losing decens of insectivorous birds overnight and episodes of famine in many points of Europe?

Or... What if malaria strikes back being forced to jump to the next species of mosquito available, those able to stand cold temperatures that can be found in Scottland or Swedden?

"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;". But in our new worlds we'll just CRISPR them away.

No more roses with thorns (they cause thumb injuries), sweet smelling stink bugs, glow in the dark pets.

Can't imagine what could go wrong. Someone needs to be writing the movie plot right now.

Frightening question: what if this technology could be targeted not at species, but at races?

You mean humans?

AFAIK human "races" are largely superficial biologically - there are some correlations, but weaker than the variability between individuals.

By the time DNA wars begin, we will be already very mixed as a planet.

You are conflating the existence of races with their similarity. Racists are focused on the latter for their racist activities

I've seen very few countries of note (aside from the US) that use "race" as any kind of indicator. This has a very good reason: It's not a clear biological separation and it also otherwise has little bearing on reality. It's an old, obsolete carry-over that was kept from the days when racism was still an accepted practice and it needs to die the death that it deserves as soon as possible.

I'm really struggling to understand your first sentence. Are you saying people generally aren't racist outside the US? Because my experience has been very, very different (and that's as a white male)

I think he references the fact that in the US you get official forms from the gov that asks (as far as I remember):


- white

- black

- hispanic

- other

Like when you get your driver license or open a bank account. Coming from Europe I was surprised by such a question. Racial issues run very deep in the US.

This is what I was referring to.

Ah, I understand now. As some anecdata: here in Singapore (a country I think is renowned for it's multiculturalism, but correct me if I'm wrong), practically every important form, from opening a bank account to renting a condo to filing taxes with the government, requires me to select my race from a list of "Chinese", "Malay", "Indian" or "Other". In Thailand, it's normal for people to specify their race and religion on their resume.

There's certainly racism in other countries but it's not based on skin colour like in the US. For example some people in the UK have an aversion to Eastern Europeans, who are white but have no problems with black Britons.

For the purposes of CRISPR, races exists when defined as "people carrying a certain genetic marker". There are various genes that are highly correlated to racial/ethnic groups (like Tay-Sachs disease),and mass murderers generally don't worry about collateral damage.

Any response I can make to this will just read like me saying "no" when you say "yes". In this case, I think it might suffice to say that the burden of proof lies with you: The person making a large claim that is not (as far as I understand it, which admittedly could be better) something that everyone knows to be true beyond a shred of doubt.

You may find interesting this presentation from John Sotos on DEF CON https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKQDSgBHPfY "Genetic Diseases to Guide Digital Hacks of the Human Genome".

It probably already can. I'm not an expert, but from what I understand CRISPR targets specific DNA sequences. Race can be determined by DNA testing, therefore I think (again, I'm not an expert) that there would be certain sequences that are specific to a race.

Now CRISPR alters the specific sequence that it targets. In fact, CRISPR only cuts the DNA at that sequence, other proteins must be employed to change and then fix the DNA. It may be well enough to simply cut up a specific race's DNA and leave it at that. Or if those cells die off too fast, splice in some garbage DNA that will at least let the cell reproduce.

> Race can be determined by DNA testing

Wading into a minefield here, but is this even remotely true?

My understanding of DNA testing is that it can only tell you what genes a person has. I wasn't aware of any reliable way to cluster genes into racial groups. (The 23 & me stuff is all probabilities, wide percentage ranges, etc.)

Further, I thought it was the case that science has basically abandoned the concept of race specifically because it couldn't be reliably measured, even by DNA analysis. Is this not the case? What am I missing?

There are measures of genetic distance that happen to correlate quite nicely with perceived ancestry, even though most genetic variation is not necessarily related to it. It's just one of many genetic "signals" that barely rise above the background noise. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_distance

Interesting thought - CRISPR could be used to create a baby of an entirely different "race" to its parents just by changing these DNA markers.

There is no biological basis for the word race.

Colour of skin, epicanthic fold, and a thousand more designating traits of race are biologically encoded in DNA.

They aren’t, however, so uniform that an attack based on presence or absence of a handful of polymorphisms together could form anything like a perfect classifier and therefore target. Race and genetics are related, but not so closely as to facilitate this.

Sure, I can have more DNA in common with people that have a different phenotype than me, but does this mean you can't group the last few genes that make them black, or let them get sicklaemia?

> last few genes that make them black, or let them get sicklaemia

Popular understanding of race (it's a social construct, so this is the relevant metric) has little or nothing to do with susceptibility to a given disease. Similarly, dark skin != what we commonly think of as "black" (think dark-skinned people from Asia, for example).

Dark skinned people from Asia are from a different race than dark skinned people from Africa.

For example if you have a dark skinned person with epicanthic fold, chances are that's a person from Indonesia or its whereabouts.

Race is not ONE trait, it's a set of traits, and all of them are encoded in DNA.

> dark skinned person with epicanthic fold, chances are that's a person from Indonesia or its whereabouts.

Or South Africa, or east Africa, etc. Or since we're talking about people and not geographic features, we could be talking about a person in the e.g. Americas who is the product of many "origin" regions of the world.

> Race is not ONE trait, it's a set of traits, and all of them are encoded in DNA.

The problem is the "set of traits" is squishy and often defined in the moment. This, plus the importance we assign to race in all affairs, has led many societies to try to codify what is meant by race. Racial distinctions are different in the context of different communities (e.g. in the US it's very important to know who is "black" vs who is not).

For example, in the US we long practiced the One-drop rule [1], which lead to absurd racial classifications [2] that required you to know a person's entire ancestry back 3 or 4 generations in order to identify her race (obviously, this is recursive).

The trouble is we start from a position of knowing how we want to classify a person, by seeing them or knowing where they come from ("I know she's black, so my classification scheme needs to ensure she's black."). We then need to apply tools (one-drop rule, etc.) to make sure that person fits the classification.

Gene clusters are a clumsy way to accomplish the same thing using modern tools. Obviously some populations share some traits. But saying "race" is something that can be objectively identified for every given individual is naive.

Back to your original point -- there's no such thing as the "last few genes" that make a person black. That's approximately like saying the last few quanta of pigment in a person's skin change their race. Or that a person's race can be determined by calipers [3]. It's ridiculous.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule

2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadroon

3 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology

Millions of people from many different origins have any given set of those traits (e.g. [epicanthic fold, pale skin] or [epicanthic fold, dark skin]. The phenotypes presented are divided into any number of social "races".

QED there's no biological basis for race.

Ssh you're not allowed to say that!

I find this meme annoying because it so often misses the point (as I'd argue it does in this particular discussion).

Yes, races are largely a social concept. However, once society has defined races based on whatever phenotypes that are in fashion at the time, it turns out that yes, there is a biological and genetic basis for those phenotypes. It's conceivable that this biological basis could be targeted by some gene-based technology. Probably not very accurately, but based on past observations I'd say that racist mass murderers are not particularly likely to care about such subtleties. And that's what matters for the GP's point.

Not disagreeing per se, but I think we often underestimate how much of our definition of 'race' is based on context, separate from our genes, such as:

- where we see a person - who this person is with - what clothes the person wears - what a person smells like - body language - spoken language - the manner in which they speak (loud, soft, etc.) - the way they walk - all sorts of other cultural markers (like stance, eye contact, etc.)

I suspect that all these contextual, largely non-biological factors play a huge role in how we decide a person's race. Possibly so much so that the biological markers we do have available are mostly useless.

Please correct me if I'm wrong though; I am far from an expert in this area!

I understand what you are saying and there is definitely a difference in phenotype but from what I've read the it's not possible to make a distinction because the interrace variance is smaller than the intrarace variance. It might be hard targeting a specific race with biological tools when it's hard to specify race biologically. But yeah there is difference in people appearance depending on location of origin.

Frightening why? The only way this system can "target" race is to make certain skin colors and such superdominant. That's a dumb effect but not really harmful to anyone.

I assume your worry is that it might selectively activate in some race to do a bad thing? But that's not how it works. It always activates, and the only thing keeping it within the mosquito species is that they physically can't breed with anything else. And obviously no such barrier exists with races.

So we could worry about a completely different and theoretical technology, but not so much this one.

Not that frightening for this specific case. A gene drive is distributed by reproduction, and the major effect is that it is passed down far more efficiently than any trait subject to the usual genetic rules.

Humans reproduce far slower than mosquitoes, and if someone managed to modify a few humans, there would likely be plenty of time to detect it and fix or contain it in some way.

They'd have to abduct hundreds of thousands of people (or clone a bunch), edit their genes, and release them back into their countries of origin. And then it would take a few generations.

what if you could target specific dna i.e. a specific person?

There are plenty of ways already to target a specific individual if you're gonna poke them with something biological.


I remember having a conversation with a friend a couple years ago, about a hypothetical scenario where a more intelligent species would someday threaten human existence. We'd then point to mosquitoes and say, look how we hate these little guys and they are still everywhere.

Well, that was that.

What technical limitations allow us to genetically target mosquitos with this but not the malaria parasite itself?

This is a good question. I don't have a full answer.

The proposed gene drive causes male mosquitoes to produce sperm that, when it fertilizes egg cells, will lead to only make offspring. After several generations of this spreading, eventually all offspring will be male, and that will be the last generation.

The gene drive does this by attacking the genes in the mosquito sex determination system called doublesex. I guess, no-one has discovered a similar vulnerable mechanism in the malaria plasmodium sex determination genes. The malaria plasmodium is a single-celled organism, and it goes through both asexual and sexual reproductive phases in its life cycle. But it does go through the sexual phase, too.


What will be the effect on humanity when we lose a constant source of stimulation for our immune systems? Perhaps it will actually set us up for a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions.

this sound like that game — horizon zero dawn

ITT: people who live in countries that aren’t ravaged by malaria share their vague feelings of doubt about whether or not getting rid of mosquitos is a good idea

In a world where total insect population collapse is a very real possibility, there exist people who think calling out people who want to not exterminate a cornerstone insect species is a good idea.

Before anybody says "well actually there was a study that said nothing bad would happen", the horribly flawed studies about wiping out mosquitoes being harmless acts under the assumption that animals that feed off mosquitoes will find other insects to live off of. With insect populations dropping to tiny fractions of what they were years ago, it's incredibly short-sighted to think that's feasible. It's the same as saying "all the rice in the world could vanish and humans would just eat something else." Technically, yes, but taking away a large portion of so many people's daily calories isn't a good idea. And looking at how fish, amphibian, bat, and bird populations are lower than ever, getting rid of a readily available food source that links entire ecosystems together is pretty selfish. Work on treating the diseases instead of taking the easy way and just destroying things.

If you're referring to this[1] article that I love to hate, it is not a study, it is a news item by some Nature journalist who whimsically interviews some folks.


TBF to humanity, we're also trying to develop effective malaria treatments, but AIUI:

- there are several parasites that fall into that umbrella

- none of them give you permanent immunity or even permanent resistance to reinfection, so we can't crib from those metaphorical notes to find a good vaccine

- the parasites are developing drug resistance/immunity

So while I agree we should be extremely careful about even considering wiping out a species on purpose, it's not for lack of exploring other options that we're at this point.

If you've been personally affected by malaria your immediate impulse is do whatever it takes to stop it.

But we know nothing comes for free, no good human deed goes unpunished.

There's a lot of debate about whether destroying malaria-carrying mosquitoes would have any side effects whatsoever. Alternately, it may have some.

I don't think your characterization is fair, in other words. Those of us in areas not immediately affected are insulated against that emotional response, but we must be aware of the reality of malaria's toll. But destroying an entire species is a draconian approach that should require a great deal of thought.

> But we know nothing comes for free, no good human deed goes unpunished.

We know nothing of the sort. Perhaps this is something you know.

Pretty much all projects of large-scale human ecological interventions ended up with some unexpected side-effect. It's extremely hard to take into account all the variables and often you fix one issue, but create 10 new ones. Just think of using myxomatosis to control rabbit population, or introduction of cane toads in Australia in attempt to control sugarcane pests.

Erradication of smallpox?

Well, it's a bit different with viruses as they're not directly part of the food chain for complex organisms - unlike mosquitos that are important food source to many insects, fish and birds. For instance for some fish and their fry the mosquito larvae are the primary food source, so if you destroy the complete population of mosquitos you might also severely affect some fish species. Some spiders and birds will also be left hungry. That can then affect other ecological niches up the food chain, perhaps even cause a collapse of the whole biotop system.

Okay, I'll bite: Vaccination (and near or total eradication) of Polio.

I'll say this - a less than 100 year timeline is probably not long enough to evaluate this.

That said, I think it's possible, but I'm very skeptical that eliminating a species will be free of indirect effects.

Let's just say it's been pretty reliably proved over time.

Wiping out smallpox seems to have no negative side effects. In any case, side effects that might exist are hugely less problematic than millions of human deaths!

There's a difference between wiping out a virus that pretty much only affects humans, and wiping out an animal that's been present for millions of years and is firmly established as a food source for countless other animals.

One has the sole effect of making humans healthier. The other is linked to far too many things to predict the outcome of. Considering dragonfly nymphs have mosquito larvae as a stable food source, it's safe to say that knocking them out will probably affect them. Then follow that food chain up (and down) and things start to get complicated.

One could argue that the rise of people arguing against vaccination of children is directly related to those people not having direct experience with the horrific realities of the diseases in question.

That aside, millions of human deaths (annually or in total) is a horrific tragedy, but if we, say, managed to render a large area of land uninhabitable through ecological collapse for a generation or more, it might be far worse, both in some imaginary absolute scale, and for the people directly displaced.

The discussion isn't about wiping out a disease, it's about wiping out a species to wipe out a disease. Smallpox was eliminated in large part due to vaccination, not wiping an animal or insect from the face of the planet.

Now, if you can eliminate the malaria within the mosquito, that's something else entirely.

Smallpox was a species, too. If we allow viruses to be species.

Fair - and you are probably right. But I'd rather not get into semantics. You know what I meant.

If everyone knew what you meant we wouldn't be having the discussion that we are definitely having.

Did you not read the OP? It makes the discussion pretty clear.

"Let's just say it's been pretty reliably proved over time."

Perhaps this is observational bias from your part? Human brain detects negatives far easier than positives.

The world is a complex place, and any action that has externalities likely creates both negative and positive ones - and for some people even same effects can be negative for some and positive for others.

Yes, bad things can happen for anyone. Generally, though, I would say deeds of compassion breed compassion.

It's one of the tenets of physics, every action has an equal reaction. This isn't really in dispute

This is sloppy thinking. Physics has nothing to do with punishment for human deeds.

This isn't in regards to punishing humans, it's the effect of wiping something out of existence that plays an un/known role on Earth's ecosystem

But Earth's biology is a naturally-balanced system.

> There's a lot of debate about whether destroying malaria-carrying mosquitoes would have any side effects whatsoever. Alternately, it may have some.

There's nothing to be lost in doing a trial in an isolated area. The world is vast, we don't need to eradicate mosquitoes at the same time everywhere...

Life find a way, it doesn't really matter how isolated the area is. Once its out there, especially if its a gene that's very likely to be passed down the chances of it spreading are ridiculously high. I imagine even more as we are talking about insects which reproduce very quickly and are generally hardy.

Can't we at least have backup plan to reintroduce?

Reintroduce malaria?

Moscitos, but now that I think about it.. If a whole population shows massive allergic reactions because the imuno system fights on after the threat is gone..

One particular species of mosquito, even.

The ongoing insect apocalypse is a problem, a potentially civilization-ending one. But wiping out malaria wouldn't be, and at this rate we'll probably do it by accident even if we don't implement this.

Why ITT since no one but you has commented yet.

Absolutely! Let's not let decisions about irreversibly altering an ecological web raise even vague feelings of doubt.

Classical ad hominem argument. Attack the people who make the immoral choice of thinking about the fact instead of blindly going forward and doing it, regardless of the cost. Perhaps it is worth to consider carefully before eradicating a species by any means?

And perhaps it is worth to consider using a domain of technology - biotechnology - we have yet to understand better? Every tool comes with it's price, and so does CRISPR/Cas9. Gene drives can override and change the hereditary mechanism which makes genes propagate in populations. There are possible second order effects in place, which would be very important to rule out before applying such a method in the wild.

<irony>Unless... unless, of course, we are happy with the import of rabbits et al to Australia.</irony>

If importing rabbits to Australia would have saved 500,000 lives annually, it would have been one of the best health-related things to happen to humanity.

(The eradication of this particular mosquito species is likely harmless, but that does not matter. We should do it even if it isn't)

Sorry, there are two separate questions here:

A) the use of a technology - a gene drive - we have no full control of in the wild

B) the act of eradication of a species

to help to lower the loss of human life in Malaria affected regions.

Your statement regarding the Australian ecosystem engineering is purely hypothetic. The import of alien lifeforms always had a detrimental effect on ecosystems, and often, as a second order effect, on humans as well.

It scares me how a lot of people think that it is not worth thinking and evaluating the use of a technology. Perhaps it is because they have no experience and knowledge in this particular domain of science?

Or perhaps they have thought and evaluated and made their judgement call.

I don't think HN is full of experts on CRISPR and African ecology.

> We should do it even if it isn't

That depends on the level of risk to other species, in case these genes leak across some barrier.

Which might be fine, but you need to, uh, check.

How many lives did industrialization save or improve? Compared to the costs?

Was it worth it? Yes, but all the consequences have not yet come home to roost.

> Unless... unless, of course, we are happy with the import of rabbits et al to Australia.

Odd that you lead with the dismissal of one logical fallacy and then in the short space of this comment fall into the trap of using another one yourself.

Sorry, I should have made clear that it was an ironic statement. My bad.

A single species of mosquito, that is domestic and invasive. And also carries a large variety of diseases, not just malaria.

Malaria and other diseases are one of the main reasons Europeans kept their African ambitions relatively contained. What is the geopolitical implication of eliminating malaria?

It has long been gone since Quinine essentially already let alone successors. Population spike maybe but also potential to stabilize more as persistent dangers cause humans to reproduce more. It would encourage more investment in children as well. No worries about "if my child dies all I spent on education would be lost and unrecoverable while say a jeep or plow would have something in the worst case".

I don't live in a country ravaged by malaria and I want to get rid of mosquitoes.

Same here. My bats can live off the moths. I currently have to use several measures to reduce mosquitoes in my area and it is costly and time consuming.

The impact of extermination could be far greater reaching https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5c611921e4b0f9e1b17f097d/...

We ought to think twice before expediting this

Plus we're already losing at least 200 species (of plant, insect and animal) every year. Might as well save half a million human lives while we're at it..

Because we haven't fucked the environment enough.

Actually, the previous time this was discussed on Hacker News, I saw a lot of posters with reasonable opinions.

Not my area of expertise at all, but mosquitoes seem unique in nature in that they can pick up diseases from one animal and spread them to another by direct blood transfusion. I've long wondered if this might confer some kind of advantage to the animals being bit, perhaps along the lines of how vaccines work.

Possibly also leeches - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8073013

"many fish leeches directly transmit several blood parasites" "Consequently, the leech is a potential vector of many pathogens, especially in regions with an endemic spread of human and/or animal pathogens."

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