The war against genetically modified organisms expands to include animals as the private firm Oxitec readies a planned release of GE mosquitoes in the Florida Keys as early as January 2012.
The mutant mosquitoes are genetically modified to contain a gene that will kill them unless they come in contact with the antibiotic tetracycline.
This lethal gene is passed on to any mutant offspring when the GE mosquitoes mate with wild mosquitoes. Any offspring born with this gene will then die before adulthood. The theory is that over time, the mosquito population will decline due to the lethal gene becoming more widespread.
Residents of the Florida Keys have not been asked to approve this release despite the fact that they would be potential bite victims given that .5% of the to be released mutants are female (the female mosquito is the one that bites).
Two previous releases of the GE mosquitoes (aedes aegypti) occurred in the Cayman Islands and Malaysia. The Cayman release, performed without residents’ permission, resulted in an 80% drop in the mosquito population compared with neighboring areas that did not have a release. The success of this release was discussed in a scientific paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Many unanswered questions about the impending release in Florida remain including what will happen with a reduction in the mosquito population in the release area? Will the void be filled by another insect species inadvertently creating new, unforeseen and perhaps irreversible problems?
What will happen to the balance of the local ecosystem? Florida bats, for example, depend on mosquitoes for food. Would such a release have unintended consequences and potentially threaten this fragile mammalian species already in alarming decline?
Who is responsible financially or otherwise if complications with the release develop?
Hopefully, residents of the Florida Keys will demand an open discussion of this impending release in a public forum and that no such experiments be allowed to proceed without their permission.
As with the haphazard and unpredictable spread of GM crops around the globe (feral GM canola growing in ditches in Japan, for example), there is no doubt that the release of GE animals particularly one like the mosquito that has the ability to hitch a ride and move unrestrained into any uncontained area will have far reaching consequences that the scientific mind can only feebly begin to comprehend.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to be Released in US for the First Time
I live in central Florida and have killed two of these mutants in the past week.
I am wondering if the fish eat the larva, will it change their genes as well and start to die off before adulthood? What about us humans that eat fish, will it change our genes as well? Everything works in a chain reaction, why wouldn’t this?
Joshua @ Deliberate Web Solutions
It always amazes me that so much science and educated effort goes into these things and so little common sense.
I sent your story to Prison Planet TV, he post stories that don’t make it to main stream TV or the paper. Hopefully this will get the word out.
Thank you Dena. I hope the folks in the Keys get word in time to stop this madness from happening in their backyard.
Very interesting. As a scientist I would be worried about disturbing the ecosystem. Just yesterday I learned that some scientists at Harvard are trying to engineer some spermless mosquitos. It would probably have the same ultimate effect as these epigentic mosquitoes.
Whenever we mess with Mother Nature, there will always, always be consequences and these consequences are never good for us, our ecosystem or the future or our planet.
Instead of spending millions working against Mother Nature, why don’t we look towards working with Mother Nature to sort our ‘so called problems”. Just look at the fabulous things Biomimicry is doing.
Preeth Ganapathy via Facebook
Amanda Earthmothergypsy via Facebook
So we are going to be bitten by a GE insect that leaves behind “stuff” in our bodies–what will that do to us?
And the loss of other species that depend on the mosquitoes for survival………….. 🙁 I may not like the blood suckers, but this is going a bit too far imho.
Sheryl Mickan via Facebook
What a stupid thing to do!!!!
Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
So…this is extremely disturbing!