Florida is Going to Release 750M Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
Florida is going to try and solve a mosquito problem with even more mosquitoes.
The state is trying to fight mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and Yellow fever and are moving forward with an experiment involving genetically modified mosquitoes which have been named OX5034 by its creators. Bay News 9 reports that the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) approved the plan this week which will begin in 2021.
If you're thinking this sounds like a bad idea, you're not the only one. There are several critics to this... some even calling it a "Jurassic Park experiment." Many residents believe there are more pressing matters especially during a pandemic. The concern is also that these G-M creatures may pose a threat to the health of people and the environment.
In fact, Bay News says the particular species (Aedes aegypti) that the state is trying to eradicate makes up only 1% of the mosquito population in Florida. However, the FKMCD says because the newly-created mosquitoes are all male they won't be dangerous to humans or animals since only female mosquitoes are the ones who bite. Females feed on blood, therefore carrying diseases. The males feed on nectar.
In addition, the modified men were engineered to mate with aegypti and, when they do, will only produce male mosquitoes passing the gene for generations. Per CNN, the female offspring will
...die in the larval stage, well before hatching.
The state sees this as not only a cheaper alternative but a safer one too since they won't be using chemicals. CNN reports that Florida has even used mosquito-eating fish to try and get rid of the problem, but it was to no avail.
Even though Aedes aegypti is only 1% of its mosquito population, Florida Keys Mosquito Control typically budgets more than $1 million a year, a full tenth of its total funding, to fighting it.
The biochem company who engineers the mosquitoes says they've done test trials in Brazil, Panama, and Cayman Islands where it has proven to be very successful.
The mosquitoes will be released in batches in 2021 and finishing in 2022.
While I hope this works, I'll be adding this to the list of reasons not to move to Florida.