In this modern era, environmental issues are the most significant causes of destruction for human beings that gouge out the production of food and health in the global village. In this instace, Latin America and the Caribbean, are facing the major minatory health threats from Aedes mosquitoes that influx diseases though their bites- resulting in the spread of Zika, Chikungunya and dengue (Knipling EF). Majority of the countries especially Asia and Africa reported colossal number of Zika cases. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) received number of reports since 2007 till 2016, where, World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency of International concern and, by August 2016, 70 countries had reported confirmed cases ( Bushland RC) . Thus, this further led IAEA to harness the sterile insect technique (SIT) for the control of the mosquito menace.
Zika virus belongs to a family of Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus viruses and the name initiated from the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947. The resulting consequences of the Zika virus could cause microcephaly in a newborn baby, as well as other central nervous system malformations*. According to the latest report of World Health Organization (WHO) the lethal link between the Zika infection and Guillain-Barre’ syndrome, could cause uncommon sickness of the nervous system. The serve consequences in Brazil and in the border Latin America and Carribbean region, counties from around the world purported urgent request to IAEA for assistance and validating sterile insect technique (SIT) to patronize populations with the diseases carrying mosquitoes (World Health Organization Report, 2017).
The IAEA with the help of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has incepted number of effective techniques to overcome the effected countries to vanquish zika transmitting mosquitoes. The use of Sterile insect technique (SIT) by IAEA could complement conventional, insecticides-based mosquito control methods, yet, there are number of hindrances with regards to environmental concerns.
The sterile inset technique has been used for over 50 years to eradicate the menace of major insect pests. It uses ionizing radiation to sterilize insects that have mass-produced in special rearing facilities. The sterilized insects are then extortive over affected areas, where they mollycoddle with other wild insects, producing no offspring. In this instance, the attrition of insects, leads to auspicious influx of the insect-borne disease.
The global research instigated by IAEA and FAO to control mosquitoes have been patronized by over 70 counties. The escalation of zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses are potentially augmenting and the introduction of SIT as a part of mosquito control programs is being considered by majority counties in the world (IAEA facts sheets).
In 2016, IAEA rendered four-year regional project worth 2.3 million euros to facilitate Latin America and the Caribbean counties to accommodate SIT as part of integrated vector control measures. To furnish such project IAEA, transfer gamma cell irradiator to Brazil to accommodate the country in its battle with Zika virus (IAEA Factsheet).
It is evident that radiation could cause potential asymmetric side effects which could asunder the nature and various parts of the environment. There is no impact on any other species in the nature, yet, it could cause possible environmental pollution. The legal consequences are divided into two parts direct benefits of SIT and Indirect benefits of SIT. The direct benefits include savings in the losses that ensue the use of insecticides (IAEA 2016). Also, the cost would be low as oppose to using various other forms of technologies in eradiating the mosquitoes. It will help to furnish the sustainable agricultural development and food security, as well as the protection of the countries from mosquitoes. The indirect consequences could include legal claims by the people of the surrounding areas. According to the report by IAEA, there are astringent health conditions that could give potential rise in humans while implementing Sterile insect techniques (SIT). In this instance, a state could entail the viability of claiming damages of their sovereignty under the Westphalia system of 1648 under the principle of damaging the environmental impact of the country and people.
Finally, the value of the environment and the health benefits is uncertain. The estimates circumstances could portray that there is no indirect benefit to the countries. The absence of vaccines and inefficient drug to treat people suffering from dengue, chikungunya and Zika, and many other member of the states, is to integrate with SIT in order to eradicate the menace of mosquitoes. Hence, there are some uncertainty of consequences as discussed above, yet, there are promising attributes that could facilitate to demise the menace of diseases and prove to be beneficial.
Knipling EF: Possibilities of insect control or eradication through the use of sexually sterile males. J Econ Entomol 1955, 48:459-469.
Bushland RC: Screw-worm research and eradication. Bull Entomol Soc Am 1975, 21:23-26.
IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication, November 2016.