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Science & Technology

750M GM mosquitoes to be released in Florida

By T.K. Randall
June 19, 2020 · Comment icon 19 comments

Is playing God with mosquito populations really a wise plan ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 JJ Harrison
A plan to release genetically modified mosquitoes has been condemned as a 'Jurassic Park experiment'.
The insects, which have been bred by British-based biotechnology company Oxitec, have been designed to help reduce the mosquito population in the state and in so doing, reduce the risk of spreading deadly diseases such as West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis.

The key to the experiment lies in having the mosquitoes carry a certain protein which, when passed down to female offspring, will prove lethal. Only female mosquitoes actually bite, so by selectively reducing their numbers, scientists hope that the spread of disease will be massively reduced too.

Both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida department of agriculture and consumer services have given the green light for scientists to proceed with the release of 750 million genetically modified insects in the Florida Keys, however conservation groups argue that the environmental impact of the scheme has not been properly assessed.

Describing the move as a "Jurassic Park experiment", opponents of the scheme now intend to sue the EPA and argue that it could do serious damage to other species in the state.
"What could possibly go wrong ?" asked Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety.

"We don't know, because they unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks."

Barry Wray, executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, was also critical.

"People here in Florida do not consent to the genetically engineered mosquitoes or to being human experiments," he said.

Unless a successful legal challenge can be mounted however, it is likely that the trial will go ahead.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (19)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by GlitterRose 4 years ago
I immediately thought of this.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Myles 4 years ago
Good point.    I still swat any I see though.   
Comment icon #12 Posted by simplybill 4 years ago
Reducing the mosquito population shouldn’t negatively affect the bird population, and could actually reduce bird mortality caused by West Nile Virus. The birds will relocate to another area, the mosquito population will eventually rebound due to the reduced bird population, and then the birds will return. It’s a temporary fix, but if it works, and WNV is temporarily eradicated, then it’ll be worth the effort.
Comment icon #13 Posted by aztek 4 years ago
yep, nature is a complicated things, might get rid of mosquitos in a small area, but on a state scale, bad idea,  we actually did plant plants that attract dragonflies around our summer house,  it worked somewhat, we did see a bit more dragonflies,  a bit less mosquitos,  but no night and day difference, still got bitten,  
Comment icon #14 Posted by Taun 4 years ago
Genetically altering one of the worst pests in history... What could go wrong? Just what we needed "Super skeeters"
Comment icon #15 Posted by FlyingAngel 4 years ago
So what do they eat?
Comment icon #16 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 4 years ago
Just when we all thought it couldn't get much worse than covid in 2020
Comment icon #17 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Just like how radiation doesn't make Fallout style super mutants and ghouls, genetic manipulation like this doesn't make super mosquitoes. There's nothing to panic over. This will either help, or have no measurable effect. People really need to stop getting their science from sci-fi. It's almost as bad as anti-GMO food people and anti-vaxxers...
Comment icon #18 Posted by danydandan 4 years ago
For anyone actually interested in the mechanism of how this is supposed to work, here is a quote from Oxitec.  
Comment icon #19 Posted by Rolci 4 years ago
and so it begins...

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