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Florida approve plan to release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes to stop the spread of disease

Published on 19/06/20 at 11:08am
Photo by James Gathany/CDC. Public Domain.

Florida state regulators have gained approval to release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes across the state to reduce the spread of the diseases they carry.

The British biotech firm Oxitec has modified the mosquitos to pass on a particular protein when they mate which lowers the survival chances for female offspring. With fewer females in the population, the researchers aim to reduce the spread of the diseases they pass one as the males of this specific species, known as Aedes aegypti, do not bite so they do not spread disease.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the plan and want a further trial to take place in Harris country Texas.

However, there is a push back from environmental groups as the company and state bodies have refused to assess the environmental impact of releasing this many mosquitoes into the ecosystem. In June, a collection of environmental groups filed a suit against the EPA alleging they are violating the Endangered Species Act by going forward with this project.

Barry Wray, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition said “people here in Florida do not consent to the genetically engineered mosquitoes or to being human experiments” while Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, added: “What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because they unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks.”

Conor Kavanagh

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