National Public Radio recently ran a series on the groundbreaking work of Australian scientist Scott O’Neill, who has developed a process for genetically modifying mosquitoes to be resistant to dengue fever. For two decades, O’Neill’s laboratory has spent hours upon hours painstakingly injecting mosquito eggs with the dengue-resistant bacteria. The success rate was often frustratingly low. Sometimes 18,000 carefully injected eggs resulted in….nothing.
As I marveled at O’Neill’s dedication and otherworldly patience, I was most struck by his willingness to invest 20 years in one big risk.
If Americans were asked to describe government in one word, I can guarantee virtually no one would say “innovative.” Or adventurous, daring, creative, or entrepreneurial. Risk-taking simply does not belong in the realm of government.