Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in Florida Keys

Cross-bred with the herpes simplex virus and E. coli bacteria

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in Florida Keys

FDA could set millions of genetically modified mosquitoes loose

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.

Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.

Dengue and chikungunya are growing threats in the U.S., but some people are more frightened at the thought of being bitten by a genetically modified organism. More than 130,000 people signed a Change.org petition against the experiment.

Even potential boosters say those responsible must do more to show that benefits outweigh the risks of breeding modified insects that could bite people.

“I think the science is fine, they definitely can kill mosquitoes, but the GMO issue still sticks as something of a thorny issue for the general public,” said Phil Lounibos, who studies mosquito control at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

Mosquito controllers say they’re running out of options. With climate change and globalization spreading tropical diseases farther from the equator, storm winds, cargo ships and humans carry these viruses to places like Key West, the southernmost U.S. city.

There are no vaccines or cures for dengue, known as “break-bone fever,” or chikungunya, so painful it causes contortions. U.S. cases remain rare.

Millions-of-genetically-modified-mosquitoesInsecticides are sprayed year-round in the Keys’ charming and crowded neighborhoods. But Aedes aegypti, whose biting females spread these diseases, have evolved to resist four of the six insecticides used to kill them.

Enter Oxitec, a British biotech firm that patented a method of breeding Aedes aegypti with fragments of genes from the herpes simplex virus and E. coli bacteria as well as coral and cabbage.

This synthetic DNA is commonly used in laboratory science and is thought to pose no significant risks to other animals, but it kills mosquito larvae.

Oxitec’s lab workers manually remove modified females, aiming to release only males, which don’t bite for blood like females do. The modified males then mate with wild females whose offspring die, reducing the population.

Oxitec has built a breeding lab in Marathon and hopes to release its mosquitoes in a Key West neighborhood this spring.

FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman said no field tests will be allowed until the agency has “thoroughly reviewed all the necessary information.”

Company spokeswoman Chris Creese said the test will be similar in size to Oxitec’s 2012 experiment in the Cayman Islands, where 3.3 million modified mosquitoes were released over six months, suppressing 96 percent of the targeted bugs. Oxitec says a later test in Brazil also was successful, and both countries now want larger-scale projects.

But critics accused Oxitec of failing to obtain informed consent in the Caymans, saying residents weren’t told they could be bitten by a few stray females overlooked in the lab.

Instead, Oxitec said only non-biting males would be released, and that even if humans were somehow bitten, no genetically modified DNA would enter their bloodstream.

Neither claim is entirely true, outside observers say.

“I’m on their side, in that consequences are highly unlikely. But to say that there’s no genetically modified DNA that might get into a human, that’s kind of a gray matter,” said Lounibos.

See also: Thousands of Genetically Modified insects developed by British scientists are set to be released into fields across Europe as an alternative to chemical pesticides.

Creese says Oxitec has now released 70 million of its mosquitoes in several countries and received no reports of human impacts caused by bites or from the synthetic DNA, despite regulatory oversight that encourages people to report any problems.

“We are confident of the safety of our mosquito, as there’s no mechanism for any adverse effect on human health. The proteins are non-toxic and non-allergenic,” she said.

Oxitec should still do more to show that the synthetic DNA causes no harm when transferred into humans by its mosquitoes, said Guy Reeves, a molecular geneticist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute.

Key West resident Marilyn Smith wasn’t persuaded after Oxitec’s presentation at a public meeting. She says neither disease has had a major outbreak yet in Florida, so “why are we being used as the experiment, the guinea pigs, just to see what happens?”

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

Complete List of BANKS Owned/Controlled by the Rothschild Family

What’s the significance of having a central bank within a country and why should you concern yourself, your family and colleagues? Central banks are illegally...

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Elon Musk Magically Extends the Battery Life of Tesla Vehicles Fleeing Hurricane Irma

In what is either a generous act of charity or an unnerving example of the control Tesla exercises over the vehicles it producers, or perhaps both,...

ENORMOUS Tiger Shark Caught Off Australian Coast

These incredible images of a huge shark caught off the coast of Australia have been flying around social media in recent days. Initially, there were...

The US Launched More Airstrikes In Yemen Last Month Than In All Of 2016

The US never really stopped launching airstrikes in Yemen, but during the early part of the Saudi invasion, they certain reduced the number of...

Hibernating Alien discovered inside Secret Chamber in the Great Pyramid

Would you believe a story about an alien mummy being found in the Great Pyramid of Giza? In the March 2000 issue of the Egyptian...

It’s Been 49 Years, and Most Don’t Know the FBI & Police Admitted Their Role in the Assassination of Dr. King

It’s been 49 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the FBI and Memphis Police Department have sparingly released information implicating...

Alien Life Could be Detected

Alien Life Could be Detectable on Planets Around Dying Stars A white dwarf is a dead star that slowly cools down until it fades into...

Retired Army Major General Gives Stunning Response to Trump’s Request for a Military Parade

After the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that it was planning a military parade at the request of President Donald Trump, one retired general wasn't having it. In...