Bill Gates is now breeding 30 million mosquitos per week in a factory in Colombia and he is threatening to “scale and deliver” the mosquitos, which are infected with an infertility bacteria, to “communities around the world.”
While mosquitoes are most often thought of as a nuisance, they are actually among the world’s deadliest animals, contributing to about one million human deaths per year because they carry and transmit a variety of deadly pathogens. Perhaps this is why Gates is almost as obsessed with mosquitos as he is with vaccines. Remember when he released mosquitos into an auditorium, prompting nervous laughter? This is the behavior of a Bond villain.
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Gates also funds Mosquito City in Tanzania, Africa, a research zone which Gates boasts is “always buzzing.”
But a whole city dedicated to studying mosquitos isn’t enough for Gates. The Microsoft founder and self-appointed World Health Czar has also spent $185 million so far in setting up a “mosquito factory” in Colombia as part of his World Mosquito Program (WMP).
The stated goal of Gates’ project? To use the mosquitos — which are infected with a bacteria that causes infertility — to target native mosquito populations that supposedly cause dengue, zika, and other viral infections in humans.
Gates—who’s been lambasted by Indian Parliament for unethical “cervical cancer vaccine” trials, posted in a video to his YouTube channel. In the video description Gates gives the broad strokes of how the WMP operation in Medellín breeds mosquitos purposefully infected with the bacteria Wolbachia and then releases them “across the country to breed with wild mosquitos that can carry dengue and other viruses threatening to sicken and kill the population.”
On its face, the project’s goal is to have the lab-bred mosquitoes deliver the Wolbachia to native mosquito populations, causing said populations to become infected with the bacteria. The Wolbachia bacteria, which is found in 50% of all the insect species on Earth (including fruit flies, dragonflies, moths, butterflies, etc.), affects the ability for mosquitoes—in this case, the species Aedes aegypti, which originates in Africa—to reproduce.
According to Gates’ World Mosquito Program, if a male mosquito with Wolbachia mates with a female, her eggs won’t hatch; if a male without the bacteria mates with a female who has it, then her offspring will hatch and they’ll all have it; and if both the male and female have Wolbachia, then all of the offspring will also hatch and have Wolbachia.
But there are some serious problems with Gates’ plans. It appears he is playing God and refusing to bother with clinical trials again.
In his post explaining WMP’s efforts on Gates Notes, Gates highlights a pair of studies supposedly showing the strategy working to prevent diseases. He references one randomized controlled trial (RCT) from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which claims to have found a reduction in the number of dengue cases in the city by 77% and dengue hospitalizations by 86%. Gates also touts a newer study from Medellín claiming to show a decline of 89% in dengue cases since Wolbachia mosquitoes started being released in 2015.
“[W]hat’s remarkable about the Wolbachia mosquitoes is that once enough of them are released to offer disease protection, it’s a solution that’s self-sustaining,” Gates says in his post. “Over time, families will be spared the heartbreak of losing loved ones and communities won’t need to spend money on prevention and treatment for these mosquito-borne diseases, freeing up funds for other health priorities,” the multibillionaire adds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes the use of Wolbachia on its website, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “has registered mosquitoes with Wolbachia to evaluate how effective they are in reducing numbers of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, not other types of mosquitoes.” The CDC adds that “Mosquitoes with Wolbachia are not genetically modified.”
But it seems the CDC may either be lying or misinformed regarding its profile on Wolbachia. In its description of the bacteria the CDC says it “cannot make people or animals (for example, fish, birds, pets) sick.” However, a study in the National Library of Medicine, published in 2010, unequivocally states that “Wolbachia [species] are gram-negative bacteria that infect filarial nematodes, including Dirofilaria immitis, and elicit an inflammatory response in cats and dogs.”
Making matters even worse is the fact that there are no extensive studies on the effects of Wolbachia on humans. WMP doesn’t offer robust evidence that Wolbachia does not seriously harm people’s health—specifically their reproductive health, considering the effect the bacteria has on mosquitoes.
What is clear from the research, however—aside from the fact that Wolbachia reportedly elicits an inflammatory response in dogs and cats—is that scientists don’t know how exactly the bacteria causes infertility. Another study available in the National Library of Medicine, published in PNAS in October of 2021, claims that “Many Wolbachia strains manipulate host reproduction, most commonly through cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI),” but that “its mechanisms [of action] remain unknown.”
Worse yet, a study published in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in July of 2008, entitled “Wolbachia in the Inflammatory Pathogenesis of Human Filariasis,” notes that “Filarial nematodes cause some of the most debilitating diseases in tropical medicine [but] Recent studies… have implicated the parasites’ endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria, rather than the nematode, as the cause of inflammatory-mediated filarial disease.” The study goes on to say “studies suggest that Wolbachia are the principal cause of acute inflammatory filarial disease [in humans].”
It’s also possible that this technology could be (undoubtedly will be?) abused. This would be especially problematic in regards to the use of so-called gene drives—or a type of genetic engineering technique that relies on CRISPR technology to modify genes so that they don’t follow the typical rules of heredity. According to journalist Jennifer Kahn, gene drives, which have been demonstrated to function in mosquito populations already, “are so effective that even an accidental release could change an entire species. And often very quickly.” Khan adds in her TED talk that “a gene drive might not stay confined to… a target species.” And that the technique gives scientists the “ability to change an entire species.”
It’s time we ask the question: “Are we Gods now?” To which Bill Gates, as well as many others working on gene-altering technology, probably have a disturbing and delusional answer.
It seems Robert F. Kennedy was right about Gates all along.
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