More than 750 million GMO mosquitoes to be released over Florida Keys – what could go wrong?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
By Paul Martin

by: Ethan Huff
Monday, August 24, 2020

For the first time, genetically modified (GMO) mosquitoes are set to be released over American soil.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) has given Oxitec, a corporation we have reported on in the past, permission to unleash some 750 million GMO mosquitos in Monroe County, Florida, over the next two years.

This “trial,” as they are calling it, will commence at some point in 2021, despite objections from more than 2,000 Florida residents who wrote in to oppose the proposition prior to its approval.

Many locals had petitioned for a referendum to decide whether or not to proceed with what Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, described as a “Jurassic Park experiment.”

Back in 2016, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed GMO mosquito trial over Key Haven. This time, voters are not being given a voice at all, and neither Oxitec nor the FKMCD has indicated where this latest batch of GMO mosquitoes will even be released.

“With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida – the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change – the administration has used tax dollars and government resources” to release GMO mosquitoes over Florida, Hanson warned in a statement.

EPA did not even look at potential risks, nor did it calculate environmental impact

Financially backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Oxitec has been experimenting with GMO mosquitoes for years, which it claims may help to eradicate mosquito populations in places like Africa where they are said to be spreading malaria.

Oxitec has attempted to conduct trials outside of America, where restrictions are generally looser. But now it has permission to release GMO mosquitoes right here in America, a first with completely unknown implications.

“What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know because EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” Hanson adds.

Barry Wray, Executive Direct of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, is similarly perturbed and demanding a remedy. He warned at a recent meeting that the FKMCD has “an obligation to our community, not a vendor that’s products are risky and untrustworthy.”

Many members of the local community have urged the FKMCD to reject Oxitec’s field trial application, noting a dearth of relevant data that in any way suggests the trial will be safe or effective. But thus far they have made minimal headway.


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