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Nobody likes insects, and some insects are dangerous and occasionally deadly. Since insects, such as mosquitoes, can cause illness and fatalities, public health officials in some countries have been known to take a hard line against insects that spread disease. The world is much better off when superior technology is developed in order to control dangerous insect populations. For example, the country of Argentina has used nuclear technology in the past in order to fully eradicate crop-damaging fruit flies. A pest control method that is referred to as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) involves using nuclear radiation to kill unwanted insect pests. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which operates under the United Nations, gave Argentinian officials permission to resort to the nuclear pest-eradication technique during the 1990’s. Now, public health officials in Argentina are planning to use the SIT against disease spreading mosquitoes.

The plan to use the STI on mosquitoes is still in its early testing phase. In Argentina, the Zika virus is not the only mosquito-borne disease that causes illness and occasional fatalities. Last year the country reported more than forty one thousand cases of dengue fever, three hundred and twenty two cases of chikungunya, and twenty one cases of the Zika virus. Unlike most countries, 2017 has seen more case of Zika this year than last. The reported amount of Zika cases reached one hundred and two. However, the STI method will not be employed next year as officials are still rearing mosquitoes for experimental purposes in laboratories. And pilot testing will not begin until 2019. An entomologist who is working to develop the mosquito control method, Hanano Yamada, says that the SIT will be invaluable to mosquito control as Zika will certainly return and it is likely that Latin America will also see new mosquito-borne diseases appear in the years to come.

 

Do you believe that using nuclear radiation to control the mosquito population could cause harm to citizens?

 

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