Possible plan to release of millions of GMO mosquitoes in Key West, Florida is creating a swarm of controversy.
British researchers have hatched a plan to release genetically modified mosquitos to combat the spread of the dengue and chikungunya viral diseases.
Oxitec is a British company that has built a breeding lab for mosquitoes in Marathon, Florida. They are breeding experimental mosquitoes and they hope to get the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration to release them into human-populated areas this spring.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District feels they may be able to out-breed the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with their pet disease-free mosquitoes. They insist that approved insecticides are not working well enough to combat the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Anytime there is a species transplanted into a new environment there is room for major errors, such as the introduction of many invasive plants and animals. Many species have been introduced in the past with good intentions, but have had bad results. GMOs are a hot subject that brings its own controversy. The majority of the public is not pleased with GMO mosquitos.
Will the plan move forward this spring? If it does, the future mosquito will be quite different in future generations than they are today. For better or for worse is anyone’s guess.