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Oxitec intends to release a number of the insects in the Florida Keys for a field test, following similar probes in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands. The goal of the experiment is to have genetically modified males mate with wild females and thus reduce the mosquito population.
The OX513A mosquitoes have proven to be effective during previous tests. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO)came out in favor of the trialsin February, saying that the controversial method might be necessary to wipe out the Zika-carrying insects.
“Time is not on our side here, if you look at how Zika has been spreading in Brazil and other countries,” Oxitec CEO Haydn Parry told reporters on Friday. “The sooner we can start the trial, the sooner we show what we can do.”
The FDA is also saying they’ve found “no evidence” that these mosquitoes will move beyond the trial zones. Where was the original testing accomplished to learn such a thing? It would seem to me that they’d had to have already released them into our environment somewhere. The process remains a couple of months away due to the FDA having to get approval from stakeholders (this seems like an amazing investment, really!).
The Florida Keys Environmental Coalition has issued statements opposing the release of the GMO mosquitoes, claiming that Oxitech isn’t likely to properly oversee the situation. Anti-GMO activists are also vehemently opposed to this experiment.