The Mad Scientists engineering more infectious and virulent viruses and bacteria in largely unregulated and accident-prone labs are not all we have to worry about. The fight against genetically engineered mosquitoes is moving into a dangerous stage with plans to release mass swarms of these mutant insects in Florida and Texas.
Developed by Oxitec, a British biotech corporation, the GMO Aedes aegypti mosquito would be released by the hundreds of millions. They are designed to mate with wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and then produce offspring where all the females die in the larval stage. The intent is to reduce mosquito populations, with the aim of reducing mosquito-borne disease.
However, there are many dangerous red flags in this process. There have been no endangered species assessments, no studies on human health impacts, and no Environmental Impact Statement.
Even more, there have been no studies on the ability of these mosquitoes to actually reduce disease transmission, and Oxitec does not make any such claims.
To date, genetically engineered mosquitoes have been an expensive failure. Studies have shown that they are not 100% sterile, there is no evidence of their effectiveness at disease reduction, and their release may result in the spread of more mosquito borne diseases.
Florida plans to release over a billion genetically engineered mosquitoes into the Florida Keys, one of the most eco-sensitive areas in Florida. Their release could have grave consequences, potentially creating more aggressive and virulent mosquitoes, potentially impacting human health and threatening endangered species.
People should not be unwittingly forced to be part of a risky experiment that benefits private biotech corporations.