Zika seems also to be in blood, so like malaria it can be spread through unsafe injections.  
This could turn out to be important depending...




-----Original Message-----
From: S. E. Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
To: SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thu, Feb 4, 2016 4:19 pm
Subject: Re: How GM Mosquitos Could Have Caused Brazil's Microcephaly Disaster

So... you're saying that if Microcephaly breaks out in other nations, it's because of capitalist pesticides that are used and not the Zika virus via mosquitoes. A test of this will be Cuba, where there is minimal usage of capitalist pesticides. If Zika is found there, then it's either spread thru a mosquito who hitched a ride with a tourist or it was spread sexually. (Unless someone brought the bad pesticide with them to help destabilize Cuba!).


-----Original Message-----
From: Mitchel Cohen 
Sent: Feb 4, 2016 12:37 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: How GM Mosquitos Could Have Caused Brazil's Microcephaly Disaster

Hi Sam,
Thanks for posting that article here. It has been making the rounds theselast few days.

For the record, though, there is almost NO connection between Zika virusand microcephaly. Which is not to day that GMO mosquitoes (GMOsquitoes!)are not responsible, but it would not be through the Zika virus.

We also suspect the huge amounts of particular pesticides that had beenapplied in those same areas of Brazil.


At 12:32 PM 2/4/2016, you wrote:

How GMMosquitos Could Have Caused Brazil's Microcephaly Disaster
In Brazil's microcephaly epidemic,one vital question remains unanswered: how did the Zika virus suddenlylearn how to disrupt the development of human embryos? The answer may liein a sequence of 'jumping DNA' used to engineer the virus's mosquitovector - and released into the wild four years ago in the precise area ofBrazil where the microcephaly crisis is most acute.

by Oliver Tickell
The Ecologist
February 1, 2016

Since August 2015, a large number of babies in Northeast Brazil have beenborn with very small heads, a condition known as microcephaly, and withother serious malformations. 4,180 suspected cases have beenreported.

Epidemiologists have found a convincing correlation between the incidenceof the natal deformities and maternal infections with the Zika virus,first discovered in Uganda's Zika Valley in 1947, which normally producesnon-serious illness.

Thecorrelation has been evidenced through the geographical distrubutionof Zika infections and the wave of deformities. Zika virus has also beendetected in the amniotic fluids and other tissues of the affected babiesand their mothers.

This latter finding was recently reported by AS Oliveira Melo et al in ascientific paper published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics& Gynecology, which noted evidence of intra-uterine infection.They also warn:

"As with other intrauterine infections, it is possible that thereported cases of microcephaly represent only the more severely affectedchildren and that newborns with less severe disease, affecting not onlythe brain but also other organs, have not yet been diagnosed."

The Brazilian Health Minister, Marcelo Castro, says he has "100%certainty" that there is a link between Zika and microcephaly.His view is supported by the medical community worldwide, including bythe US Center for Disease Control.

Oliveira Melo et al draw attention to a mystery that lies at the heart ofthe affair: "It is difficult to explain why there have been nofetal cases of Zika virus infection reported until now but this may bedue to the underreporting of cases, possible early acquisition ofimmunity in endemic areas or due to the rarity of the disease untilnow.

"Asgenomic changes in the virus have been reported, the possibility of anew, more virulent, strain needs to be considered. Until more cases arediagnosed and histopathological proof is obtained, the possibility ofother etiologies cannot be ruled out."

And this is the key question: how - if indeed Zika really is the problem,as appears likely - did this relatively innocuous virus acquire theability to produce these terrible malformations in unborn humanbabies?

Map showing the concentration of suspected Zika-related cases ofmicrocephaly
in Brazil. Image: Claire Bernish / AntiMedia.

Map showing the location of Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil. Image: thanks toJohn Fedor-Cunningham.

Oxitec's GM mosquitoes

Anexcellent article by Claire Bernish published last week onAntiMedia draws attention to an interesting aspect of the matterwhich has escaped mainstream media attention: the correlation between theincidence of Zika and the area of release of genetically modifiedAedes aegypti mosquitos engineered for male insterility (seemaps, above right).

The purpose of the release was to see if it controlled population of themosquitos, which are the vector of Dengue fever, a potentially lethaldisease. The same species also transmits the Zika virus.

The releases took in 2011 and 2012 in the Itaberaba suburb of the city ofJuazeiro, Bahia, Northeast Brazil, about 500 km west of the coastal cityof Recife. The experiment waswritten up in July 2015 in the journal PLOS Neglected TropicalDiseases in a paper titled 'Suppression of a Field Population ofAedes aegypti in Brazil by Sustained Release of Transgenic MaleMosquitoes' by Danilo O. Carvalho et al.

An initial 'rangefinder of 30,000 GM mosquitos per week took placebetween 19th May and 29th June 2011, followed by a much larger release of540,000 per week in early 2012, ending on 11th February.

At the end of it the scientists claimed "effective control of awild population of Ae. aegypti by sustained releases of OX513A male Ae.aegypti. We diminished Ae. aegypti population by 95% (95% CI:92.2%-97.5%) based on adult trap data and 78% (95% CI: 70.5%-84.8%) basedon ovitrap indices compared to the adjacent no-release controlarea."

So what's to worry about?

The idea of the Oxitec mosquitoes is simple enough: the males producenon-viable offspring which all die. So the GM mosqitoes are'self-extinguishing' and the altered genes cannot survive in the wildpopulation. All very clever, and nothing to worry about!

But in fact, it's not so simple. In 2010 geneticist Ricarda Steinbrecherwrote to the biosafety regulator in Malaysia - also considering arelease of the Oxitec mosquitoes - with a number of safety concerns,pointing out the2007 finding by Phuc et al that 3-4% of the first generationmosquitos actually survive.

The genetic engineering method employed by Oxitec allows the popularantibiotic tetracycline to be used to repress the lethality duringbreeding. But as a side-effect, the lethality is also reduced by thepresence of tetracycline in the environment; and as Bernish points out,Brazil is among the world's biggest users of anti-microbials includingtetracycline in its commercial farming sector:

"As a study by the American Society of Agronomy, et. al.,explained, 'It is estimated that approximately 75% of antibiotics arenot absorbed by animals and are excreted in waste.' One of theantibiotics (or antimicrobials) specifically named in that report for itsenvironmental persistence is tetracycline.

In fact, as a confidentialinternal Oxitec document divulged in 2012, that survival rate couldbe as high as 15% - even with low levels of tetracycline present. 'Evensmall amounts of tetracycline can repress' the engineered lethality.Indeed, that 15% survival rate was described by Oxitec."

She then quotes the leaked Oxitec paper: "After a lot of testingand comparing experimental design, it was found that [researchers] hadused a cat food to feed the [OX513A] larvae and this cat food containedchicken. It is known that tetracycline is routinely used to preventinfections in chickens, especially in the cheap, mass produced, chickenused for animal food. The chicken is heat-treated before being used, butthis does not remove all the tetracycline. This meant that a small amountof tetracycline was being added from the food to the larvae andrepressing the [designed] lethal system."

So in other words, there is every possibility for Oxitec's modified genesto persist in wild populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitos,especially in the environmental presence of tetracycline which is widelypresent in sewage, septic tanks, contaminated water sources and farmrunoff.

'Promiscuous' jumping genes

On the face of it, there is no obvious way in which the spread ofOxitec's GM mosquitos into the wild could have anything to do withBrazil's wave of micrcophaly. Is there?

Actually, yes. The problem may arise from the use of the 'transposon'('jumping' sequence of DNA used in the genetic engineering process tointroduce the new genes into the target organism). There are several suchDNA sequences in use, and one of the most popular is known as known aspiggyBac.

As a2001 review article by Dr Mae Wan Ho shows, piggyBac is notoriouslyactive, inserting itself into genes way beyond its intended target:"These 'promiscuous' transposons have found special favour withgenetic engineers, whose goal is to create 'universal' systems fortransferring genes into any and every species on earth. Almost none ofthe geneticists has considered the hazards involved ...

"It would seem obvious that integrated transposon vectors mayeasily jump out again, to another site in the same genome, or to thegenome of unrelated species. There are already signs of that in thetransposon, piggyBac, used in the GM bollworms to be released by the USDAthis summer.

The piggyBac transposon was discovered in cell cultures of the mothTrichopulsia, the cabbage looper, where it caused high rates of mutationsin the baculovirus infecting the cells by jumping into its genes ... Thistransposon was later found to be active in a wide range of species,including the fruitfly Drosophila, the mosquito transmitting yellowfever, Aedes aegypti, the medfly, Ceratitis capitata, and the originalhost, the cabbage looper.

"The piggyBac vector gave high frequencies of transpositions, 37times higher than mariner and nearly four times higher thanHirmar."

In alater 2014 report Dr Mae Wan Ho returned to the theme with additionaldetail and fresh scientific evidence (please refer to her originalarticle for references): "The piggyBac transposon was discoveredin cell cultures of the moth Trichopulsia, the cabbage looper, where itcaused high rates of mutations in the baculovirus infecting the cells byjumping into its genes ...

"There is also evidence that the disabled piggyBac vectorcarrying the transgene, even when stripped down to the bare minimum ofthe border repeats, was nevertheless able to replicate and spread,because the transposase enzyme enabling the piggyBac inserts to move canbe provided by transposons present in all genomes.

"The main reason initially for using transposons as vectors ininsect control was precisely because they can spread the transgenesrapidly by 'non-Mendelian' means within a population, i.e., byreplicating copies and jumping into genomes, thereby 'driving' the traitthrough the insect population. However, the scientists involved neglectedthe fact that the transposons could also jump into the genomes of themammalian hosts including human beings ...

"In spite of instability and resulting genotoxicity, the piggyBactransposon has been used extensively also in human gene therapy. Severalhuman cell lines have been transformed, even primary human T cells usingpiggyBac. These findings leave us little doubt that the transposon-bornetransgenes in the transgenic mosquito can transfer horizontally to humancells. The piggyBac transposon was found to induce genome wide insertionmutations disrupting many gene functions." 

Has the GM nightmare finally come true?

So down to the key question: was the Oxitec's GM Aedes aegyptimale-sterile mosquito released in Juazeiro engineered with the piggyBactransposon? Yes, it was. And that creates a highly significantpossibility: that Oxitec's release of its GM mosquitos led directly tothe development of Brazil's microcephaly epidemic through the followingmechanism:

1. Many of the millions of Oxitec GM mosquitos released in Juazeiro in2011/2012 survive, assisted, but not dependent on, the presence oftetracycline in the environment.

2. These mosquitos interbreed with with the wild population and theirnovel genes become widespread.

3. The promiscuous piggyBac transposon now present in the local Aedesaegypti population takes the opportunity to jump into the Zika virus,probably on numerous occasions.

4. In the process certain mutated strains of Zika acquire a selectiveadvantage, making them more virulent and giving them an enhanced abilityto enter and disrupt human DNA.

5. One way in which this manifests is by disrupting a key stage in thedevelopment of human embryos in the womb, causing microcephaly and theother reported deformations. Note that as Melo Oliveira et al warn, thereare almost certainly other manifestations that have not yet beendetected.

6. It may be that the piggyBac transposon has itself entered the DNA ofbabies exposed in utero to the modified Zika virus. Indeed, thismay form part of the mechanism by which embryonic development isdisrupted.

In the latter case, one implication is that the action of the gene couldbe blocked by giving pregnant women tetracycline in order to block itsactivity. The chances of success are probably low, but it has to be worthtrying.

No further releases of GM insects!

While I am certainly not claiming that this is what actually took place,it is at least a credible hypothesis, and moreover a highly testable one.Nothing would be easier for genetic engineers than to test amnioticfluids, babies' blood, wild Aedes mosquitos and the Zika virusitself for the presence of the piggyBac transposon, using wellestablished and highly sensitive PCR(polymerase chain reaction) techniques.

If this proves to be the case, those urging caution on the release ofGMOs generally, and transgenic insects bearing promiscuous transposons inparticular, will have been proved right on all counts.

But most important, such experiments, and any deployment of similar GMinsects, must be immediately halted until the possibilities outlinedabove can be safely ruled out. There are plans, for example, to releasesimilarly modified Anopheles mosquitos as an anti-malarialmeasure.

There are also calls for even more of the Oxitec Aedes aegyptimosquitos to be released in order to halt the transmission of the Zikavirus. If that were to take place, it could give rise to numerous newmutations of the virus with the potential to cause even more damage tothe human genome, that we can, at this stage, only guess at.

[Oliver Tickell edits The Ecologist.]

Lead essay: Remembering RichardLevins .... The Struggle for Ecological Agriculture in Cuba.

Audio:The Permanent Carnival. 
Lead poem in Mitchel Cohen's book by the same name. 
Give a listen!

Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfectoffering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light getsin.  
~ Leonard Cohen 

author- "The Black Holocaust for Beginners"