Amid the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the release of millions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in Monroe County, Florida and Harris County, Texas.
British company Oxitec chose the Florida Keys as its first test site for the modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that contain a gene that prevents female offspring from surviving. Female mosquitoes are carriers of the Zika and dengue viruses.
Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth said, “The Trump Administration’s dangerous decision to proceed with its extreme deregulatory agenda during a global health crisis could have terrible consequences.”
For one, a Yale University study confirmed that the mosquitoes are not sterile, and that the GM ones survived into adulthood and had spread into wild populations of mosquitoes, potentially creating hybrid ones that could be more resistant to insecticides. Friends of the Earth has requested a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be reviewed by independent ecologists and entomologists, public health experts and other key stakeholders.
If approved by state and local authorities, millions of the GM mosquitoes will be released over a two-year period in Monroe County, Florida beginning in summer 2020 and in Harris County, Texas in 2021.
In the Florida Keys, 58% of voters supported the trial.
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