The FDA is about to complete the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys—unless we respond in force. Action Alert!
Earlier this month, the FDA made available a draft environmental assessment predicting that the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida, would have “no significant impact”—which means that the approval for their release is imminent.
The FDA’s determination is based largely on data submitted by Oxitec, the company producing the GM mosquitoes.
The stated purpose of this experiment—and make no mistake, this is all wildly experimental, and widely criticized—is to eradicate mosquito populations that are responsible for spreading diseases like dengue fever and Zika. The idea is this: genetically engineered male mosquitoes released into the wild breed with disease-carrying mosquitoes, resulting in offspring that die before they are able to breed.
First, concerns have been raised that the Zika outbreak may be linked to the release of Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes in Brazil three years ago, which was also done for the purpose of combating dengue fever. Some critics of the GM mosquitoes speculate that the presence of the antibiotic tetracycline in the environment could override the genetically modified DNA in the mosquitoes, resulting in increased survival rates of the disease-carrying insects.