Locally acquired malaria has been nonexistent in the U.S. for the last 20 years.
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GMO mosquitoes created by biotechnology company Oxitec have been released in the U.S., even though the long-term effects could be disastrous. The experimental release would target the mosquito species Aedes aegypti and aim to reduce its population in Tulare County.
Oxitec is using Aedes aegypti (A. aegypti) mosquitoes for this real-world experiment, the species known to carry yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, and Mayaro, a dengue-like disease.
In the U.S., Oxitec is marketing the insects as Oxitec Friendly mosquitoes, trying to put a non-threatening name on a reckless project that could quickly backfire.
The Gates Foundation is heavily invested in the GMO (genetically modified organism) mosquito project, investing more than $30 million in Oxitec. Most of it — more than $20 million — is aimed at U.S. regions.
In April 2020, the EPA approved an initial EUP, allowing Oxitec to release its GE mosquitoes on 6,240 acres of Monroe County, Florida and 360 acres of Harris County, Texas.
By April 2021, Oxitec had released nearly 5 million A. aegypti mosquitoes in the Florida Keys over a seven-month period, against the wishes of many residents and environmental groups.
In March 2022, the EPA granted Oxitec a two-year extension of its EUP, which would allow the biotech company to release additional GMO mosquitoes in Florida as well as in four counties in California for the first time.
Now EPA Grants Permission for Release of an Additional 2 Billion GMO Mosquitoes.
Safety concerns surround GMO mosquitoes
A Center for Food Safety webinar raised several concerns about Oxitec’s GMO insects, including misleading efficacy claims, disease rebound, and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria — not to mention there’s no informed consent for populations being exposed to this massive experiment.
Previous field trials have already raised red flags. In the city of Jacobina in Bahia, Brazil, about 450,000 GE male mosquitoes were released weekly for 27 months in the region.
The Yale University researchers monitored the population of A. Aegypti mosquitoes in Jacobina to determine if the release of GMO mosquitoes was affecting the genetics of the wild population by transferring genes.
When analyzed six, 12, and 27 to 30 months after release, the researchers found “clear evidence that portions of the transgenic strain genome have been incorporated into the target population.”
A tri-hybrid population of GE mosquitoes now exists in Jacobina (Cuba/Mexico/Brazil).
It also raises eyebrows that Russia has accused the U.S. of preparing to use drones to drop malaria-carrying mosquitoes on soldiers.