[Action Alert] • The residents of Florida Keys are concerned and alarmed by the British company Oxitec's plan to release genetically modified mosquitos into their environment in an effort to combat Dengue fever.
The Dengue virus is carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitos, and can be fatal. The Oxitec mosquitos are modified so that they will mate with the existing mosquito population and produce offspring that die young. Dengue fever has not been a problem in Key West since 2010, an indication to many that the current methods of control have been effective.
The local community in Florida has been very vocal about their opposition to being test subjects. They are understandably worried about the negative effects that these genetically modified insects could have if they bite humans. The consequences could ultimately be worse than that posed of by the Dengue-carrying mosquitos alone.
Ultimately, the petition fights for more testing to be done. Oxitec has admitted that the system is not perfect. Females can be accidentally released, and it is females that do the biting and bloodsucking. No study has been done thus far to show that the engineered protein they carry won't be passed on to the human.
Although this takes place in just one part of our country, it speaks to a broader issue of local communities having the right to feel safe and know what's in their air, water, and food. Proper testing to ensure the safety of the surrounding area should be mandatory.
Image by jcmar.net, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.Tweet