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May 20, 2016: A New Breed of Mosquitoes May Be Released in Florida

Albany’s Times Union asks “What are you more afraid of, the Zika virus, or genetically engineered bugs being released in the wild?

“The biotech firm Oxitec plans to release non-biting male mosquitoes that have been modified to produce offspring that don’t survive after mating with wild females. Researchers believe that within a few generations, this should sharply reduce the mosquito population.

“Supporters are expressing confidence in the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) evaluation, Oxitec’s data and reports about similar international trials. They say the risks of mosquito-borne diseases outweigh fears about releasing a genetically modified species into the wild. And some say they distrust GMO foods but still consider Oxitec’s plan more environmentally friendly than pesticides.

“While supporting the FDA’s preliminary determination that it’s safe to release these GMO bugs, the American Biological Safety Association questions whether Oxitec’s technology is practical. The American Bird Conservancy also is in favor but wants more details about how the trial near Key West would be monitored.

“Critics raise the potential consequences to human health and the environment of releasing GMO mosquitoes without more long-term research, arguing that the risks are too high even amid a global health crisis.”

Source: Times Union

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