Florida residents are making a fuss while scientists prepare to release 750 million GM mosquitoes

Mosquitoes-Joao Paulo Brini / Moment RF

Mosquitoes-Joao Paulo Brini / Moment RF

Florida residents are furious as scientists prepare to release hundreds of millions of people Genetically modified mosquitoes To their community.

In this experiment, led by British biotechnology company Oxitect, about 750 million male mosquitoes in Florida over the next two years to control the population of invasive and disease-carrying species that settled in the area. It will be sent to Keys.

However, many residents are dissatisfied with participating in what one group called the “Jurassic Park Experiment.”

The first wave of the project will release thousands of mosquitoes in six locations this week.

The project was launched to combat Aedes aegypti, which makes up about 4% of the Keys mosquito population, but is responsible for almost all mosquito-borne diseases that infect humans, including dengue, Zika and yellow fever. I am. It can also infect pets and animals with heartworm and other deadly diseases.

& # Xa0; Florida Keys-James Breeden

Florida Keys-James Breeden

Only female mosquitoes bite humans and convey the disease, Because blood is needed to lay eggs. Oxitect has modified a male mosquito gene to carry a protein that kills female offspring before reaching a mature chewing age.

Males who eat only nectar survive and pass on genes.

It is expected that the modified male mosquitoes will breed with existing wild female mosquitoes and gradually eliminate the Aedes aegypti population.

The project has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency, but Barry Ray of the Florida Keys Environmental Union said: “People here in Florida do not agree with genetically engineered mosquito and human experiments.”

“We found this criminal. We are being bullied by experiments,” Islamorada resident Meganhal said at a council meeting.

Earlier this year, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Marlenelson Government Cultural Arts Center in Keirago, complaining that they were unable to see the full impact of the experiment. In a statement condemning the project, the Environmental Group’s Friends of the Earth said, “The release of genetically engineered mosquitoes makes Floridian, the environment and endangered species unnecessary in the midst of a pandemic. It will be at risk. “

However, Oxitec said: “We have released over a billion mosquitoes over the years. There is no potential risk to the environment or humans.”

Oxitec said the modified mosquitoes significantly control wild Aedes aegypti in other areas and do not harm beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies.

In a similar project in the Brazilian city of Indiatuba, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were found in an urban dengue-prone environment after only 13 weeks of treatment compared to an untreated control site in the same city. Was found to be suppressed by up to 95%.