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!).
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
Thanks for posting that article here. It has been making the rounds these
last few days.
For the record, though, there is almost NO connection between Zika virus
and 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 been
applied in those same areas of Brazil.
At 12:32 PM 2/4/2016, you wrote:
Mosquitos Could Have Caused Brazil's Microcephaly Disaster
In Brazil's microcephaly epidemic,
one vital question remains unanswered: how did the Zika virus suddenly
learn how to disrupt the development of human embryos? The answer may lie
in a sequence of 'jumping DNA' used to engineer the virus's mosquito
vector - and released into the wild four years ago in the precise area of
Brazil where the microcephaly crisis is most acute.
by Oliver Tickell
February 1, 2016
Since August 2015, a large number of babies in Northeast Brazil have been
born with very small heads, a condition known as microcephaly, and with
other serious malformations. 4,180 suspected cases have been
Epidemiologists have found a convincing correlation between the incidence
of the natal deformities and maternal infections with the Zika virus,
first discovered in Uganda's Zika Valley in 1947, which normally produces
correlation has been evidenced through the geographical distrubution
of Zika infections and the wave of deformities. Zika virus has also been
detected in the amniotic fluids and other tissues of the affected babies
and their mothers.
This latter finding was recently reported by AS Oliveira Melo et al in a
scientific 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 the
reported cases of microcephaly represent only the more severely affected
children and that newborns with less severe disease, affecting not only
the 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 by
the US Center for Disease Control.
Oliveira Melo et al draw attention to a mystery that lies at the heart of
the affair: "It is difficult to explain why there have been no
fetal cases of Zika virus infection reported until now but this may be
due to the underreporting of cases, possible early acquisition of
immunity in endemic areas or due to the rarity of the disease until
genomic changes in the virus have been reported, the possibility of a
new, more virulent, strain needs to be considered. Until more cases are
diagnosed and histopathological proof is obtained, the possibility of
other 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 the
ability to produce these terrible malformations in unborn human
Map showing the concentration of suspected Zika-related cases of
in Brazil. Image: Claire Bernish / AntiMedia.
Map showing the location of Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil. Image: thanks to
Oxitec's GM mosquitoes
excellent article by Claire Bernish published last week on
AntiMedia draws attention to an interesting aspect of the matter
which has escaped mainstream media attention: the correlation between the
incidence of Zika and the area of release of genetically modified
Aedes aegypti mosquitos engineered for male insterility (see
maps, above right).
The purpose of the release was to see if it controlled population of the
mosquitos, which are the vector of Dengue fever, a potentially lethal
disease. The same species also transmits the Zika virus.
The releases took in 2011 and 2012 in the Itaberaba suburb of the city of
Juazeiro, Bahia, Northeast Brazil, about 500 km west of the coastal city
of Recife. The experiment was
written up in July 2015 in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical
Diseases in a paper titled 'Suppression of a Field Population of
Aedes aegypti in Brazil by Sustained Release of Transgenic Male
Mosquitoes' by Danilo O. Carvalho et al.
An initial 'rangefinder of 30,000 GM mosquitos per week took place
between 19th May and 29th June 2011, followed by a much larger release of
540,000 per week in early 2012, ending on 11th February.
At the end of it the scientists claimed "effective control of a
wild 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%) based
on ovitrap indices compared to the adjacent no-release control
So what's to worry about?
The idea of the Oxitec mosquitoes is simple enough: the males produce
non-viable offspring which all die. So the GM mosqitoes are
'self-extinguishing' and the altered genes cannot survive in the wild
population. All very clever, and nothing to worry about!
But in fact, it's not so simple. In 2010 geneticist Ricarda Steinbrecher
wrote to the biosafety regulator in Malaysia - also considering a
release of the Oxitec mosquitoes - with a number of safety concerns,
pointing out the
2007 finding by Phuc et al that 3-4% of the first generation
mosquitos actually survive.
The genetic engineering method employed by Oxitec allows the popular
antibiotic tetracycline to be used to repress the lethality during
breeding. But as a side-effect, the lethality is also reduced by the
presence of tetracycline in the environment; and as Bernish points out,
Brazil is among the world's biggest users of anti-microbials including
tetracycline 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 are
not absorbed by animals and are excreted in waste.' One of the
antibiotics (or antimicrobials) specifically named in that report for its
environmental persistence is tetracycline.
In fact, as a confidential
internal Oxitec document divulged in 2012, that survival rate could
be as high as 15% - even with low levels of tetracycline present. 'Even
small 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 testing
and comparing experimental design, it was found that [researchers] had
used a cat food to feed the [OX513A] larvae and this cat food contained
chicken. It is known that tetracycline is routinely used to prevent
infections in chickens, especially in the cheap, mass produced, chicken
used for animal food. The chicken is heat-treated before being used, but
this does not remove all the tetracycline. This meant that a small amount
of tetracycline was being added from the food to the larvae and
repressing the [designed] lethal system."
So in other words, there is every possibility for Oxitec's modified genes
to persist in wild populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitos,
especially in the environmental presence of tetracycline which is widely
present in sewage, septic tanks, contaminated water sources and farm
'Promiscuous' jumping genes
On the face of it, there is no obvious way in which the spread of
Oxitec's GM mosquitos into the wild could have anything to do with
Brazil'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 to
introduce the new genes into the target organism). There are several such
DNA sequences in use, and one of the most popular is known as known as
2001 review article by Dr Mae Wan Ho shows, piggyBac is notoriously
active, inserting itself into genes way beyond its intended target:
"These 'promiscuous' transposons have found special favour with
genetic engineers, whose goal is to create 'universal' systems for
transferring genes into any and every species on earth. Almost none of
the geneticists has considered the hazards involved ...
"It would seem obvious that integrated transposon vectors may
easily jump out again, to another site in the same genome, or to the
genome of unrelated species. There are already signs of that in the
transposon, piggyBac, used in the GM bollworms to be released by the USDA
The piggyBac transposon was discovered in cell cultures of the moth
Trichopulsia, the cabbage looper, where it caused high rates of mutations
in the baculovirus infecting the cells by jumping into its genes ... This
transposon was later found to be active in a wide range of species,
including the fruitfly Drosophila, the mosquito transmitting yellow
fever, Aedes aegypti, the medfly, Ceratitis capitata, and the original
host, the cabbage looper.
"The piggyBac vector gave high frequencies of transpositions, 37
times higher than mariner and nearly four times higher than
later 2014 report Dr Mae Wan Ho returned to the theme with additional
detail and fresh scientific evidence (please refer to her original
article for references): "The piggyBac transposon was discovered
in cell cultures of the moth Trichopulsia, the cabbage looper, where it
caused high rates of mutations in the baculovirus infecting the cells by
jumping into its genes ...
"There is also evidence that the disabled piggyBac vector
carrying the transgene, even when stripped down to the bare minimum of
the border repeats, was nevertheless able to replicate and spread,
because the transposase enzyme enabling the piggyBac inserts to move can
be provided by transposons present in all genomes.
"The main reason initially for using transposons as vectors in
insect control was precisely because they can spread the transgenes
rapidly by 'non-Mendelian' means within a population, i.e., by
replicating copies and jumping into genomes, thereby 'driving' the trait
through the insect population. However, the scientists involved neglected
the fact that the transposons could also jump into the genomes of the
mammalian hosts including human beings ...
"In spite of instability and resulting genotoxicity, the piggyBac
transposon has been used extensively also in human gene therapy. Several
human cell lines have been transformed, even primary human T cells using
piggyBac. These findings leave us little doubt that the transposon-borne
transgenes in the transgenic mosquito can transfer horizontally to human
cells. The piggyBac transposon was found to induce genome wide insertion
mutations disrupting many gene functions."
Has the GM nightmare finally come true?
So down to the key question: was the Oxitec's GM Aedes aegypti
male-sterile mosquito released in Juazeiro engineered with the piggyBac
transposon? Yes, it was. And that creates a highly significant
possibility: that Oxitec's release of its GM mosquitos led directly to
the development of Brazil's microcephaly epidemic through the following
1. Many of the millions of Oxitec GM mosquitos released in Juazeiro in
2011/2012 survive, assisted, but not dependent on, the presence of
tetracycline in the environment.
2. These mosquitos interbreed with with the wild population and their
novel genes become widespread.
3. The promiscuous piggyBac transposon now present in the local Aedes
aegypti 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 selective
advantage, making them more virulent and giving them an enhanced ability
to enter and disrupt human DNA.
5. One way in which this manifests is by disrupting a key stage in the
development of human embryos in the womb, causing microcephaly and the
other reported deformations. Note that as Melo Oliveira et al warn, there
are almost certainly other manifestations that have not yet been
6. It may be that the piggyBac transposon has itself entered the DNA of
babies exposed in utero to the modified Zika virus. Indeed, this
may form part of the mechanism by which embryonic development is
In the latter case, one implication is that the action of the gene could
be blocked by giving pregnant women tetracycline in order to block its
activity. The chances of success are probably low, but it has to be worth
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 amniotic
fluids, babies' blood, wild Aedes mosquitos and the Zika virus
itself for the presence of the piggyBac transposon, using well
established and highly sensitive PCR
polymerase chain reaction) techniques.
If this proves to be the case, those urging caution on the release of
GMOs generally, and transgenic insects bearing promiscuous transposons in
particular, will have been proved right on all counts.
But most important, such experiments, and any deployment of similar GM
insects, must be immediately halted until the possibilities outlined
above can be safely ruled out. There are plans, for example, to release
similarly modified Anopheles mosquitos as an anti-malarial
There are also calls for even more of the Oxitec Aedes aegypti
mosquitos to be released in order to halt the transmission of the Zika
virus. If that were to take place, it could give rise to numerous new
mutations of the virus with the potential to cause even more damage to
the human genome, that we can, at this stage, only guess at.
[Oliver Tickell edits The Ecologist.]
Lead essay: Remembering Richard
Levins .... The Struggle for Ecological Agriculture in Cuba.
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 perfect
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets
~ Leonard Cohen