750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Will Be Released To Reduce The Local Population In Florida

Artificially Engineered Mosquitoes Will Limit And Eliminate Female Biting Mosquitoes

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The local authorities in the city of Florida have approved regarding the release of about 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes, which are being used to reduce the number of the local population of mosquitoes, which usually causing deadly viral infections and diseases, including Zika virus or dengue. The forward approval for this pilot project has been finalized after multiple years of debate as this project drew an outcry from several environmental groups, who have already warned the local officials regarding the unintended consequences of launching genetically modified mosquitoes to eliminate chances of severe diseases.

Male mosquito’s population to prevent diseases

One of the environmental groups has condemned this plan, saying that this would be a ‘Jurassic Park experiment’ on the local population. Multiple activists have warned regarding the possible damages to the ecosystem, along with a potential formation of a hybrid, insecticide-resistant species of mosquitoes. But according to the company, that there would not be any adverse side effects and risk to human lives or the city’s environment from the genetically modified mosquitoes, for which these claims have been backed up by governmental studies.

According to the local government, the genetically modified mosquitoes are expected to be released in the upcoming year in the Florida Keys, which are a string of islands. This plan for the creation of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of life-threatening dengue fever has been approved by the federal regulators after months of hard work and studies.

In the month of May, the United States Environmental Agency has granted permission to Oxitec, a British-based company operating in the United States, to create and manufacture the genetically modified mosquitoes with the help of genetic engineering. The mosquitoes, which are to be spread across Florida, are male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, also known as OX5034.

Usage of genetically modified mosquitoes

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are typically known to transmit harmful, deadly diseases in the human body, which includes Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and Chikungunya. Only the female mosquitoes bite living bodies as they require blood to reproduce. So the approved plan includes the creation and spread of male mosquitoes, which has been genetically engineered.

The approach is to hopefully breed the female mosquitoes with the genetically modified mosquitoes of the male gender as the modified male carries a specific type of protein that will kill any female offspring before it is able to reach its mature age of biting the human host. The males, which will only require flower nectar to stay alive and survive, and will pass on these modified genes in the next generation.

The aim of this approach with the genetically modified mosquitoes is to reduce the population of disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the city of Florida, which will thereby reduce the spread of infection and mortality. The final approval for the spread of 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes has been received, and the mosquitoes will be released over a period of two years.

To change this plan, more than 240,000 individuals signed a petition on Change.org, criticizing the plan of Oxitec and its usage in the United States, as the company is doing this as a testing ground for their mutant bugs. According to the official website of Oxitec, the corporation has found positive test results that have been previously conducted in the trials field in Brazil. The company is also planning to deploy more of these genetically modified mosquitoes in the city of Texas at the beginning of next year, for which they already have gained federal approval from concerning authorities.

According to a local environmental group, this releasing of the genetically modified mosquitoes will put the residents of Florida along with the endangered species and environment of the city at a high risk amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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