Florida GM mosquitoes will not be released

January 2017
Photo Creative commons
The first ever mass release of GM mosquitoes in the U.S. will NOT go ahead.

Not wanting to be used as lab rats forced to swallow, breath and be bitten by biotech mozzies in their own homes, the Florida community chosen to be the subjects of this reckless, real-life experiment complained very loudly.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had fast-tracked approval of the trial release of Oxitec's self-destruct GM mosquitoes, simply hadn't done its homework.  There have been no impact assessments on people, nor on threatened and endangered species, nor on the environment, nor even on the Zika virus and Dengue virus the high-tech decimation of the mosquito population is supposed to achieve [1].

Any future applications for GM mosquito release will require an 'Environmental Assessment' and a 'Finding of No Significant Impact'.


For once, common sense trumped cash.  Intrexon Corporation, which holds the US rights to Oxitec's mosquitoes [2], funded the respectable-sounding 'Florida Keys Safety Alliance' to the tune of $100,000.  This industry front organisation launched an "education awareness campaign" to teach the community to want GM mosquitoes. The local action group, 'Citizens for Safe Science'  had a budget of $2,860 (one-thirty-fifth of the industry budget).

OUR COMMENT


Public interest group, the Center for Food Safety, which put pressure on the FDA to halt the release, proposed an alternative: "We need long-term and sustainable solutions to prevent mosquito breeding grounds".

As highlighted before "measures such as stimulating biodiversity to encourage mosquito predators, covering stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, and putting fish into the water to eat mosquito larvae will all keep mozzie numbers down, keep viral transmission minimal and promote natural immunity in the human population without resorting to chemicals, vaccines, or GMOs."[3]

None of these measures is patentable, and none can be commercialised.  However, in terms of  human health, community well-being and environmental integrity, they are lighter on the public purse than the toll GM mosquitoes might exact.

Take note of how much effect shouting very loudly had, even with a 35 to 1 cash handicap.

Background:
[1]  GM MOZZIE TRICKS GET CLEVERER - September 2014
[2]  OXITEC BUSINESS - September 2016
[3]  ZIKA AND SUPER-ZIKA - April 2016

SOURCES:
·         Kate Colwell, Victory!  GE mosquitoes will not be let loose on Florida community, Friends of the Earth, 7.12.16

·         Katie Atkins, Key West group fires back at Oxitec, www.flkeysnews.com, 15.10.16

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