Approved by the Environment Protection Agency in May, the pilot project is designed to test if a genetically modified mosquito is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides to control the Aedes aegypti. It’s a species of mosquito that carries several deadly diseases, such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The mosquito, named OX5034, has been altered to produce female offspring that die in the larval stage, well before hatching and growing large enough to bite and spread disease. Only the female mosquito bites for blood, which she needs to mature her eggs. Males feed only on nectar, and are thus not a carrier for disease.
What could go wrong? Not everyone is happy.
“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. Now the Monroe County Mosquito Control District has given the final permission needed. What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because EPA unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety.
“The Mosquito Control Board has an obligation to our community, not a vendor that’s products are risky and untrustworthy. FKMCD wants to proceed with an experiment that may be damaging to public and environmental health and our local economy,” said Barry Wray, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. “We need true solutions to benefit our community and ecosystems.”