The Phaserl


GMO Mosquito Trial Approved in the Florida Keys

Despite pleas from the public not release the insects

by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:

On November 19, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District board voted to approve a trial of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes designed to fight the Zika virus in the Keys.

The district has been working with British biotech company Oxitec for the last 5 years to get federal approval for a trial release of the genetically engineered male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes into the wild. When they mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, their offspring die.

The proposed trial had been mired in controversy, as many locals were concerned – and still are – about the many questions that remain unanswered about the altered mosquitoes, such as how being bitten by one of the insects might affect a person. [2]

Oxitec’s tries to release only male mosquitoes, which don’t bite, but it’s estimated that a small number of females do get released. The company claims that even if someone were to be bitten by a female, it wouldn’t matter because the altered genes aren’t in the mosquitoes’ saliva.

Read: Oxitec GM Mosquitoes Cross-Bred with What!?

There have been more than 200 local cases of the Zika virus throughout Florida, though none of those cases were reported in the Keys. [1]

One of the concerned Keys residents is Megan Hall, who appealed to the district board on Saturday before the vote:

“I am going to ask you, beg you, plead with you not to go forward with this.”

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