Florida to release genetically modified mosquitoes

FLORIDA – After lengthy federal and state procedures, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District this week approved a plan to release more than 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes in the Key Region to combat an invasive, disease-fighting species of insect .

The genetically altered mosquito, named OX5034 by Oxitec, is to be released in batches starting in 2021 to the biotech firm that engineers them. They are all males, and want to have relationships with females of the species Aedes Egypti, who came from Africa and is known to carry such diseases as zika, dengue, and yellow fever, rendering them unable to produce any viable offspring.

What do you want to know

  • Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to Launch 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Starting Next Year

  • Genetically modified mosquitoes will mate with invasive species carrying a disease and prevent reproduction

  • Environmental groups say that what has happened in the environment has not been reported

Because only the female of the species bites and sucks the blood of other animals, the plan’s architects believe that the project poses no threat to humans, nor to the environment. However, its opponents claim that it has not really been told what can happen when genetically modified species are released into the wild.

In a statement posted on the website of the International Center for Technology Assessment and the Center for Food Safety, policy director Jedi Hanson called the project a “Jurassic Park experiment”. The statement said Barry Ray, executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, says that “FKMCD wants to move forward with an experiment that could be harmful to public and environmental health and our local economy.”

While the initiative is certainly not without its inherent unknown, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has struggled strongly to erase Aedes aegypti, Which make up only one percent of the region’s mosquito population, still remains a serious health threat. Previous attempts to control the mosquito population, such as the use of chemical sprays, are wanted – and all these have sparked protests from health experts to environmental advocates.

Should Florida residents be concerned about violations of mutant mosquitoes landing on their communities? Probably not – according to the American Mosquito Control Association, the average (ie non-genetically engineered) mosquito has a flight range of one to three miles.

And in any case, Oxitec can probably engineer some genetically modified bats when it all ends up eating engineered mosquitoes.


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