FLORIDA residents blew up local pest control terrorists over plans to set off a billion mutant mosquitoes in the Keys.
In the areas of the Mosquito Control District (FKMCD), the gene-hacked “Fraken Squitoes” are said to be released to combat insect-borne viruses such as yellow fever.
A billion mutant mosquitoes are said to be released in the keys to fight insect-borne viruses such as yellow feverCredit: GETTY
Florida Pest Control Chiefs have been labeled “terrorists” because of the plansCredit: GETTY
The experiment is scheduled to begin this week. In the first phase, up to 144,000 modified mosquitoes will be released over the next 12 weeks.
The project aims to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti species known to transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, zika and yellow fever.
Developed by British biotech company Oxitect, the male mosquitoes do not bite and are introduced to small areas in a select number of neighborhoods in the Monroe region.
Florida residents, however, are calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end “this live experiment” because they beat the organization as “terrorists”.
Barry Wray of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition said, “The people here in Florida don’t approve of the genetically modified mosquitoes or human experiments.”
In what Dr. Nathan Rose, Oxitec’s chief regulatory officer, referred to as the “self-limiting” gene, the insects released were genetically engineered to pass on a specific protein when they mate.
With fewer women in the generations to come, the researchers hope the total mosquito population will decrease, as will the rates of transmission of the diseases they carry.
Ultimately, up to a billion people will be released in the area over a two-year period as authorities respond to the recent yellow fever outbreak that emerged earlier this year.
Dana Perls, program manager for food and technology at Friends of the Earth, described the incident as “a dark moment in history”.
She said, “The EPA must stop this live experiment immediately.
“The release of genetically modified mosquitoes puts Floridians, the environment and endangered species at risk amid a pandemic.”
The researchers hope that the overall mosquito population will decrease as a result of the experimentCredit: GETTY
However, many residents state that they did not consent to the trial programImage credit: AP
After the groundbreaking approval for the pilot project was announced in 2020, the region’s residents started operations.
In March, a group of independent experts revealed that the GE mosquitoes could also pose a significant threat to fragile ecosystems and human populations in the Florida Keys.
Megan Hull, a resident of Islamorada, spoke at the council meeting where she voiced her complaints.
“I find this criminal that we are bullied into the experiment,” she said in March.
“I think it’s criminal that we are exposed to this terrorism from our own Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board.”
Residents say the EPA bypassed official procedures and required no official assessment or preliminary testing for the modified mosquitoes before they were released into the wild.
Mr. Wray added, “I firmly believe that we are fighting one of the most serious regulatory disruptions we can ever imagine.”
“All of this risk benefits a for-profit company that gets to market faster with a product that has yet to prove nothing but failure in all of its historical field trials.”
Although Oxitec reached an agreement last year to initiate a procedure in the US state, Oxitec has already carried out this type of experiment in other parts of the world.
In recent years, the company has claimed that similar attempts at Aedes aegypti technology in Brazil and the Cayman Islands have been successful and not “persist in the environment or cause beneficial insects,” according to its website.
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That said: “Recent similar demonstration projects in the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba showed that the Oxitec mosquito suppressed the disease-transmitting Aedes aegypti by up to 95 percent after only 13 weeks of treatment.
“This is compared to untreated checkpoints in the same city.”