Bruce Sterling on Sun, 24 Jun 2001 19:09:52 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] FW: Mosquito Repelling Genes Now Available Over-the-Counter

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From: "futurefeedforward" <>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 09:55:54 -0700
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Subject: Mosquito Repelling Genes Now Available Over-the-Counter

June 4, 2037

Mosquito Repelling Genes Now Available Over-the-Counter

RACINE--Consumer chemical and health maintenance giant SC Johnson unveiled
today a new gene-therapeutic version of its classic Off insect repellant.
In place of the conventional topical or ingestible repellant, the new Off
includes genes enabling the skin to produce a natural insect repellent of
its own.  "This is a real breakthrough," notes company spokeswoman Linda
Oat.  "For all practical purposes this is a completely passive insect
protection solution.  Once you've had the Off treatment you'll never have to
worry about pests again; you'll never have to remember to apply a topical

    Though many of the details concerning the new Off remain trade secrets,
public filings by the company indicate that the treatment inserts
proprietary 'human-variant Bt' genes based upon the venerable Bt anti-pest
and anti-fungal genes widely incorporated in resistant crops.  "The new Off
is based on Bt," explains Oat, "but the Off genes have been extensively
evolved and adapted to produce a repellant very like traditional Off.  This
required not just modification of the skin, but also some tweaking of the
renal and digestive systems in order to ensure that raw materials for the
repellant were available in adequate supplies."

    The Off genes are delivered by a series of ingestible, color-coded
tablets taken over a 72-hour period.  Each tablet contains a mix of viro-
and nano-mechanical delivery vehicles that bind to specialized receptor
sites on target cells in order to spread the Off genes throughout the skin
and other key systems.  Within two weeks, the sweat and oil glands begin to
produce repellant sufficient to ward off an array of pests, including
mosquitoes, midges, gnats, ants, roaches, bees, flies, horseflies, and
burrowing starlink weevils.

    "Pests are no longer just annoyances," notes Oat.  "The increasing
frequency of large-scale mosquito blooms, and a number of recent starlink
weevil outbreaks, make it clear that pests are serious health risks.  That's
why we've approached the redesign of Off with the best that medical
technology has to offer."

    Though results of fast-track FDA approval are not yet available,
environmental and consumer health groups are quick to point to disclaimers
included with the new Off as an indicator of possible risks.  "This is
another example of chemical companies replacing public oversight with their
own inadequate disclosure schemes," exclaims ChemFree founder Donald Wrap.
"The fine print on these disclaimers is very revealing, even though it often
isn't effective in protecting consumers.  The label for the new Off, for
instance, warns users not to 'exercise near an open flame.'  What does that
mean, really?  What kind of risks are involved?  We just don't know."

    Critics also raise questions about the subscription price model
announced for Off.  Users will be able to purchase the initial treatment
series for a nominal fee, but the Off genes include a special protein-based
expiration lock that requires ingestion of special 'subscription-renewing'
tablets sold separately in 7-day, 30-day, and year-long durations.  "Is
anywhere safe from IP licenses of this sort?" demands fair use activist Jill
Terribly.  "These companies won't be happy until I have to pay a licensing
fee for breathing and shitting!"

    The new Off is scheduled for availability in drug and discount stores by
the end of the month.  Johnson plans to offer the repellant in three
versions initially: unscented, CK One, and Lemon-Fresh Pledge.


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