Florida to deploy thousands of GMO mosquitoes to combat Zika; scientists say environmental impacts unknown

Monday, August 8, 2016
By Paul Martin

by: J. D. Heyes
Monday, August 08, 2016

The state of Florida is about to make a decision that it can’t take back: Releasing scores of genetically modified mosquitoes in a bid to wipe out other mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.

Following approval by the Food and Drug Administration, a field trial that would see the release of the GM mosquitoes is set to take place in the Florida Keys. While Gov. Rick Scott has been vocal in his demand that federal agencies step up their efforts to help eradicate the virus-carrying insects, the way in which the government is set to approach the problem could be disastrous.

Late last week, the FDA released a final environmental assessment of the trial (see how fast the bureaucracy moves when an administration wants it to?), issuing a finding that GM mosquitoes “will not have significant impacts on the environment.” The project, which is being led by Oxitec, a biotechnology firm focusing on insect control, calls for releasing thousands of GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These are bred in a lab to kill off as much of a local mosquito population as possible, through the passing on of a gene that is fatal to any offspring of wild females.

But despite the FDA’s approval of this experimental procedure, the agency doesn’t have the final word on the matter. Oxitec must still win approval from the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which will vote on the issue after surveying local residents later this fall.

All of this for a virus that has been here for decades and is patented?

The Rest…HERE

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