Verily is a company that is owned by Alphabet Inc. And for those who are unaware, Alphabet Inc. is the giant company that owns Google, which makes Google and Verily sister companies. Verily is also part of the life sciences division at Alphabet and their goal is to lower the population of mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases in California.
Some of these include yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and even the Zika virus.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. owns Verily and Verily hopes to help reduce the rate of disease transmission. In an obviously counter intuitive manner, Verily has decided to release 20 million bacteria-infected male mosquitoes into central California.
Most people have noticed that mosquitoes have evolved and adapted rather quickly. They have grown larger, can sting through clothes and are now much more prone to attacking body parts that we can not as readily protect (ie. hamstrings, buttocks, scapula, etc.)
Although most of the aforementioned diseases aren’t a threat to the people of Cali, it has been estimated that the population growth of mosquitoes will eventually become a threat to humans.
Scientists and biologists also warn that as the climate and the weather changes so will the mosquitoes and the diseases that they carry.
As of right now, Verily has released Debug Fresno which is a project that involves the release of 1 million mosquitoes into Fresno.
So far a million mosquitoes have been set free with plans to release another million every week for a total of 20 weeks. This is not the first time that this type of experiment has been tried in Fresno, however it is the first of its kind in terms of scope.
Now, one may think that releasing MORE mosquitoes into the atmosphere may be counter-intuitive to the process but in reality these mosquitoes are not genetically modified.
These mosquitoes are infected with a naturally occurring bacteria that makes some mosquitoes sterile.
So by releasing these infected mosquitoes out into the atmosphere it is actually a form of biological control. The more these male mosquitoes mate, the more they will make other mosquitoes sterile.
The bacteria that they have been infected with is known as Wolbachia pipientis.
It is believed to be one of the most common pathogens in the world that can change the reproductive systems of insects.
It is said to infect up to 76 per cent of the the insects that have been studied and these same studies have shown that when male mosquitoes are infected they become sterile.
The project hopes to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes into Fresno so that they can mate with other female mosquitoes thus making them all sterile and dramatically reducing the number of disease-transmitting mosquitoes out there.