Author Topic: Gene drives are we playing god?  (Read 398 times)

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2018, 03:13:44 PM »
Why Only Female Mosquitoes Drink Blood


Quote
Blood is full of proteins and amino acids, which makes it the perfect prenatal supplement for growing mosquito eggs, which is why only female mosquitos drink blood. When female mosquitos aren’t drinking your blood, they eat plant nectar just like their male counterparts.
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline trdsf

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2018, 03:40:11 PM »
I'd say it depends on the species and the overall role it plays in its ecosystem.  As annoying as mosquitoes are, what other organisms feed on them?  What's the impact if *they* go away due to lack of mosquitoes to feed upon?

I think it would be much more sensible to use genetic engineering to try to produce a mosquito whose biosystem is hostile to the malaria virus, if you want to attack mosquitoes as the carriers.  Granted, you open up the possibility of malaria evolving to something that can live inside that modified system, but if you're going to go the genetic route it's better to make a better mosquito than it is to make no mosquitoes at all.

Nature has had billions of years to sort out how everything fits together, and we absolutely have not untangled that to its core—and it's not something we can just reboot if we screw it up.  We also have to remember that whatever we do, evolution will blindly grope a way around it.  Not necessarily soon, but eventually.  I don't fancy leaving my nieces and their descendents a world with super-malaria in it when regular malaria is bad enough.

Ultimately, it's less a question of 'is it moral to wipe out a non-sentient species' than it is of 'is it sensible to, and do we really understand all the ramifications if we do'.  I'd answer those 'I don't know', and 'It depends, and no we don't'.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2018, 04:03:48 PM »
Massive extinction has been underway for about 100 years now.  Mosquitos are the host for other illnesses, like malaria and West Nile.  One method of secondary control, has been to produce disease resistant male insects to compete in mating with the diseased ones.

Yes that is a possible way to bypass the moral dilemma and it plausible, but not what I was looking to discuss. For this post I just wanted to assume the approach on the table was eradication rather than disease whack a mole. 
http://ForDebating.com is now in beta.

We have 1v1 and 2v2 debates 2-6 round debates others vote on and will have up to 16-man tourneys working soon.

Offline aitm

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2018, 08:06:10 PM »
The grandeur of being human is the ten-thousand year old belief that we are "special" and therefore get to make such decisions. The fact of course is that we get to make some. Not all. Maybe eventually we can eradicate all that threatens humans big and small and thus claim superiority. But the "universe" such as it it, would not recognize our billion times larger than bacteria or some other creatures billion times larger than us as any measure of success. Humanity has lost far more lives to that which is a billion times smaller and creatures a billion times larger than us would be wise to understand that.

Wiping out another species without completely understanding the ramifications sounds just like what humans do....like lead and asbestos products..ciggies and facebook.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2018, 12:22:26 AM »
Yes that is a possible way to bypass the moral dilemma and it plausible, but not what I was looking to discuss. For this post I just wanted to assume the approach on the table was eradication rather than disease whack a mole.

The only species, we will deliberately eradicate ... will be our own.  Sorry.
שלום

Offline Cavebear

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2018, 12:26:46 AM »
It'd absolutely be moral to wipe out diseases that harm thousands, sometimes millions, of humans a year.  However, we should be very, very careful about how we deploy such measures. 

Antiobiotics was a wonder cure until antiobiotic resistance evolved, in part because of misuse (prescribed to people who didn't need it, and used on a massive scale on livestock).  DDT has a similarly reckless and unwary history.

Eliminate harmful mosquitoes and kudzu from the South, and I'll be a happy man.

I won't have much argument about eliminating mosquitos and kudzu.  And a few other pests.  Like, tell me how aphids benefit us in any way...  .
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2018, 06:31:58 AM »
I won't have much argument about eliminating mosquitos and kudzu.  And a few other pests.  Like, tell me how aphids benefit us in any way...  .

Some use aphids like cattle ... species-ist?
שלום

Online Hydra009

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2018, 12:37:39 PM »
Well, those species that eat mosquitos might not like doing without them. Maybe they could get by, and maybe not. We just need to remember that we can't eradicate one species without affecting others.
There are only a few mosquito species that harm humans.  So you wouldn't need to wipe out all 3,500 species of mosquito.  More like 3 to 200, depending on how thorough you want to get.  That's a lot less disruptive.

But let's say we wipe out all mosquito species tomorrow.  That might be somewhat harmful for fish and birds that feed on them, particularly in the arctic.  But it wouldn't be the end of the world or anything.  The ecosystem would recover pretty quickly.

From a lot of the responses in this thread, I get the impression that some people think of the ecosystem as a Jenga tower that collapses when you pull a single piece.  Thankfully, that's not the case, otherwise we'd be long dead.  Extinctions are actually pretty common, and we are in fact living during an era of mass extinction.  While it's important to not confuse is-ought (we shouldn't justify intentionally wiping out species simply because other species are being unintentionally wiped out) it's also important to acknowledge that targetted extinction isn't as disasterous as one might initially expect.  In fact, the world we live in is one in which humans have completely or nearly wiped out all sorts of harmful species, and I doubt anyone here finds fault with the result.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 01:37:27 PM by Hydra009 »

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2018, 01:59:00 PM »
No polio doesn't fit that scenario it hasn't been eradicated. Smallpox is closer, but it's definitely debatable if a virus has the same value as a mosquito.

I'd say they both have value.   Mosquitos have novel ways of preventing blood from clotting.   Viruses may have novel ways of delivering their payload to cells.

You never know when a biological trick might come in useful...



Winner of WitchSabrinas Best Advice Award 2012


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato

Offline Cavebear

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2018, 01:43:26 AM »
I like the idea of sending out sterile male mosquitos of the species that cause us the most diseases.  The mosquitos may adjust, but it is possible they will not be harmful after that.  Mosquitoes that didn't harbor parasites might be good too. 

I wouldn't mind killing off some species entirely.  Does anyone mourn the end of the previously naturally-occurring widespread smallpox virus?  Suppose we could simply end influenza?  Should ANYONE cry about that?  Does the rabies virus do anything good to any other species than the rabies virus. 

All parasites can pretty much go without harm to the biosphere.  And if you are thinking "But we might learn something from them", I'll risk it.

What would you like to bet that in 50 years, we know enough about all species that we could replicate any harmful one we killed off (that in some bizarre discovery had value) we couldn't replicate?
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2018, 02:19:03 PM »
James D. Waston said "If scientists don't play God, who will?" We may not like the idea of being the sole entity that can decide the future of life on our planet, but we're stuck with the responsibility - there's no one else we can turn to for help figuring out how best to husband the biosphere of Earth. We'll either do it well, or we'll do it badly, but we'd better understand, and soon, that it's up to us, collectively, to do or not do - there is no "try.".
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2018, 02:22:32 PM »
James D. Waston said "If scientists don't play God, who will?" We may not like the idea of being the sole entity that can decide the future of life on our planet, but we're stuck with the responsibility - there's no one else we can turn to for help figuring out how best to husband the biosphere of Earth. We'll either do it well, or we'll do it badly, but we'd better understand, and soon, that it's up to us, collectively, to do or not do - there is no "try.".

Been failing upward since the agricultural revolution.  An individual might or might not be smart ... a committee never is ... and the mob is ... random motion.
שלום

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2018, 02:25:44 PM »
Been failing upward since the agricultural revolution.  An individual might or might not be smart ... a committee never is ... and the mob is ... random motion.
Yeah, as stated by Kay in Men in Black, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Cavebear

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2018, 12:02:51 AM »
James D. Waston said "If scientists don't play God, who will?" We may not like the idea of being the sole entity that can decide the future of life on our planet, but we're stuck with the responsibility - there's no one else we can turn to for help figuring out how best to husband the biosphere of Earth. We'll either do it well, or we'll do it badly, but we'd better understand, and soon, that it's up to us, collectively, to do or not do - there is no "try.".

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  And last time I checked, humans don't have equals. 

I wouldn't hesitate to kill the last mosquito on Earth or the last parasite.  Depends on your definition of "parasites" though.  In a narrow way, all animals are parasites on plants.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2018, 05:28:51 AM »
It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  And last time I checked, humans don't have equals. 

I wouldn't hesitate to kill the last mosquito on Earth or the last parasite.  Depends on your definition of "parasites" though.  In a narrow way, all animals are parasites on plants.

And there is an old Dr Who episode on that too.  A plant lover conspired with aliens to kill all animal life.  But what about the Venus Fly Trap?  Viruses are the original parasite on cellular life.  Wanting to actually eliminate germ life ... puts one in Howard Hughes territory.
שלום

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk