An Ethical Overview of the CRISPR-Based Elimination of Anopheles gambiae to Combat Malaria

I. J. Wise and P. Borry,  Journal of Bioethical Inquiry,  2022.

Approximately a quarter of a billion people around the world suffer from malaria each year. Most cases are located in sub-Saharan Africa where Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are the principal vectors of this public health problem. With the use of CRISPR-based gene drives, the population of mosquitoes can be modified, eventually causing their extinction. First, we discuss the moral status of the organism and argue that using genetically modified mosquitoes to combat malaria should not be abandoned based on some moral value of A. gambiae. Secondly, we argue that environmental impact studies should be performed to obtain an accurate account of the possible effects of a potential eradication of the organism. However, the risks from the purposeful extinction of A. gambiae should not overtake the benefits of eradicating malaria and risk assessments should be used to determine acceptable risks. Thirdly, we argue that the eventual release of the genetically modified mosquitoes will depend on transparency, community involvement, and cooperation between different nations.

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