Everyone knows that mosquitoes spread potentially deadly diseases, especially those of us that live or grew up near coasts like myself, and the company Oxitec is trying to solve that issue by releasing 750 million GMO mosquitoes into Harris County, Texas and the Florida Keys.
What Was Modified In The GMO Mosquitoes?
Oxitec has changed these GMO mosquitoes so that the female mosquitoes die in the larva stage. They did this because female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite humans and spread diseases, while male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar and are harmless. Lowering the population of female mosquitoes will lower both the overall mosquito population and the number of females there are out there biting humans. Mosquitoes can spread a lot of several illnesses such as malaria and the zika virus.
Government Approval and Public Backlash
Recently, the federal government gave the company approval to conduct this experiment in Florida and Texas, but the state and local governments have not approved the experiment yet. The company has been trying for quite a long time to make this happen, back in 2016 they tried and failed to get approved, and they are back up to take another swing at it.
There has also been significant backlash from local governments and community members with people criticizing the experiment as a waste of time and tax dollars that could be better utilized for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Keys Environmental Coalition Director also claimed that the company has refused to provide proof that their experiment would be safe.
When Does The Experiment Start?
The experiments have been approved by the federal government to be conducted between 2021 and 2022, the company would slowly release the 750 million GMO mosquitoes over the course of months while monitoring the population levels of the most dangerous variety of mosquitoes. They would only happen in the jurisdictions in which they are trying to do the experiment, however. This research could be good for people since mosquitoes spread illnesses, but the ecological effect is still unclear and could end poorly.
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