Published: December 9, 2022

Category: GMO News

California’s state legislature is vigorously swatting away approval of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquito—approved for release in Tulare County by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency but awaiting the OK from the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Based on unknown impacts such a move could unleash upon humans and other species, the lawmakers are pushing the Department to deny release of millions of the non-biting mosquito. The goal is to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti, an invasive type infiltrating the county in recent years.

The GM insect has a self-limiting gene preventing females from creating female offspring. Only female mosquitos bite and can transmit disease; the modified males will only mate with Aedes aegypti females. Modified mosquitos have a fluorescent marker to help monitor trends. Theoretically, the self-limiting gene can’t establish in the ecosystem and won’t impact butterflies, bees, and other non-target species.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman worries about “how this might influence populations of birds, bats, fish species, and other insects.”

California would be the second U.S. state conducting a GM mosquito trial—Florida is in the trial phase of an Oxitec pilot program, with effectiveness not yet determined. However, Yale researchers measured the impact of a similar trial in Brazil earlier, finding that the GM mosquitoes failed to reduce Aedes aegypti numbers. Actually, the GM mosquitos bred with local Aedes aegypti, producing hybrid insects that may be more aggressive, harder to eradicate, and perhaps capable of spreading more mosquito-borne disease.

Source: The Sun Gazette

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights December 2022