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750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to be Released in Florida Keys. Jurassic Park, Anyone?

Image for representation

Image for representation

The GM mosquitoes, named OX5034, will be used as a probable and feasible alternative to spraying insecticides in order to control the Aedes aegypti.

Florida Keys has received the final approval to their plan of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the area. The local authorities in the Florida Keys have given their nod to the release of approximately 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes in 2021 and 2022, despite strong opposition from local residents and environmental groups. The plan was already approved by the state and federal department.

The GM mosquitoes, named OX5034, will be used as a probable and feasible alternative to spraying insecticides in order to control the Aedes aegypti. The Aedes aegypti species is known as a carrier of several mosquito-spread diseases, including Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The project was approved by the Environment Protection Agency in May.

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Criticising the decision and approval, Jaydee Hanson, the policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, said in an official statement, “With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida — the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change — the administration has used tax dollars and government resources for a Jurassic Park experiment... What could possibly go wrong?”

This will be the first time in the history of the US when genetically altered mosquitoes will be released in the environment. According to the plan, the new species will have a special gene which will restrain the survival of female offspring.

While the male mosquitoes feed on nectar and do not act as a carrier, it is the female mosquito which spreads the disease. The new process will make more male mosquitoes mate with female mosquitoes, thus declining the number of Aedes aegypti.