Over 100,000 signatures have been gathered on an online petition asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deny a British biotech company’s application to release the genetically modified mosquitoes.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is touting the new plan as way to fight dengue fever.
Oxitec, short for Oxford Insect Technologies, wants to release its male mosquitoes into the wild to breed with females. Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite, so the company hopes to release males with an altered gene that would ultimately kill them and whatever larvae is produced by their mating.
Mila de Mier, a Florida mom of three, started the petition drive against the plan on Change.org.
“As a community we’ve already said we don’t want these mosquitoes in our backyards, but Oxitec isn’t listening,” de Mier said.
She and other residents in Key West say they want more definitive scientific studies of potential long-term effects on humans, as well as the environment.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this,” she said. “I thought about a goal of 1,500 [signatures]. That turnout would have made me happy.”
Dengue fever produces flu-like symptoms that can sometimes prove to be fatal. Old Town Key West experienced several cases of the disease in 2009, but a case hasn’t been there recorded since 2010.
Another release of the genetically altered bugs expected earlier this year was indefinitely postponed.
What do you think? Is a good idea to release these mutant mosquitoes into the wild?
- Florida Keys Residents Fight Back Against Release of GMO Mosquitoes (americafirstsite.com)
- Florida Keys residents resist release of dengue fever-immune mosquitoes (guardian.co.uk)
- Florida Keys residents resist release of dengue fever-immune mosquitoes (theaveragejoenewsblogg.com)