Millions Of GM Mosquitoes Are On The Loose: Are We In Danger?

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Nowadays, we can’t get away from GM things, no matter hard we try. Even annoying mosquitoes are getting genetically modified. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and biotech company Oxitec are introducing millions of GM mosquitoes into the Florida area to help stop the spread of disease.

One disease they hope to stop the spread of is called dengue, and the other is chikungunya. Both of these diseases are spread by the Aedes mosquito. As of 2014, only 11 people in Florida have actually contracted chikungunya, so you have to wonder if all of this is really necessary.

Chikungunya can lead to very painful joints and high fevers, but the disease rarely causes death or permanent injury. Now, it is true that severe cases of dengue can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can result in death. However, as of this writing, dengue is rarely found in the U.S. as it is more of a tropical disease.

No one seems to be concerned about those things, however, as Oxitec has already released millions of GM olive flies to naturally kill off crop damaging pests. They also released more than 3 million GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Brazil. This did appear to be successful as about 90 percent of the native mosquito population died off.

How does this work? All mosquitoes are males that have been genetically modified to carry a “kill switch.” When these GM males mate with females, this killing gene is passed on to the offspring, which die before reaching maturity.

Now those who support these GM bugs, such as Oxitec, state that the public has nothing to fear and that anyone who says otherwise is simply engaged in fear mongering. Of course, this is the same response we get from Big Agra when we complain about GM foods. What is wrong with asking questions and demanding proof of safety?

Although Oxitec states that all mosquitoes will be made male, but like Jurassic Park, is there any real guarantee that this will happen? Since it is only female mosquitoes that bite, what would happen if a female GM mosquito should bite a human? Would it somehow inject us with this “killing gene?” Even Oxitec trials show that probably .03 percent of their GM mosquitoes are female.

With millions of mosquitoes being released into the general population, this means thousands of females — females that bite! Also, in addition to the risk of being bitten by one of these GM mosquito monsters, when you are talking about 50 to 100 million mosquitoes being released, has anyone considered the environmental impact? Is there anyone tracking any of these mosquitoes? Bites? Environmental problems? Or is everyone just sitting back thinking that this all sounds like a good idea?

No one can deny that there is a potential for these killing genes to infect humans through the bites of female mosquitoes. This could mean absolute chaos for humans by creating insertion mutations or other types of unknown DNA changes, damage, or mutations.

The Agriculture Department of Hawaii has stated that they believe mosquitoes can actually develop a resistance to this killer gene. This means that we might be releasing GM mosquitoes that are ineffective at controlling the population, but that are still quite capable of passing this gene on to human subjects. An entomologist for the Agriculture Department of Hawaii stated that in their lab tests, about 3.5 percent of these GM mosquitoes made it to adulthood, even though they should have been killed by the GM gene.

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Mosquito repellent. Woman spraying insect repellent on skin

Photo credit: bigstock

Let’s not forget that antibiotics such as tetracycline are showing up in our soil and surface water. GM mosquitoes are designed to die without tetracycline. They use tetracycline in the lab to keep these mosquitoes alive long enough to breed. Designers believe that these GM mosquitoes are not going to have access to tetracycline. This means that if these GM mosquitoes find a pond or some other source of water with traces of tetracycline, they would not only not die, but they would thrive.

If you remember, Oxitec released GM fruit flies, hoping to stop crop damage, but instead, the offspring died as maggots, inside the fruit, making it just as inedible as the damage caused by adults.

One of the most dangerous things about all of this is that there are really no regulations, no laws, and no oversight when it comes to GM insects. None. This means that anyone can create any type of GM insect and release it with no repercussions — there are no laws regarding these monstrosities.

Perhaps if the public discovered that GM insects can be created and released without any oversight or repercussions, they might think twice about these “solutions” to natural problems.

Greenpeace suggests that GM bugs could have wide-ranging and unintended impact on both the environment and human health since there are many unknown factors about these insects. Just some of the concerns that environmental groups have raised are:

  • New genes could jump into other species, causing unintended and terrible consequences for the natural ecosystem
  • Releases of insects would be impossible to control or monitor as well as being irreversible
  • New insects might fill a niche left by the suppressed insects, creating new health or environmental problems

And the real cherry on the top? Oxitec says that they will not be responsible for any complications that might arise. They want to release billions of GM insects before any regulation might be enacted, and they say that, even after regulation occurs, they want to exclude risk assessments such as possible impact on human health.

 

READ ALSO: We Have 20 Non-Toxic Ways to Get Rid of Houseflies! Say “Bye Bye” Flies!

 

You probably haven’t heard anything about this release of mosquitoes, even if you live in Florida. Why is this? Why is there no input allowed from the public? Why are things that can impact the health of everyone kept so hush-hush?

There are so many questions that have yet to be answered.

References:

www.nytimes.com

www.inasp.info