(The Best Years in Life)
British researches are hoping to let
millions of mosquitoes with genetically-modified DNA loose in a residential area
of the Florida Keys in the spring of 2015. The US Federal Drug Administration is
considering approving what would be an experiment to see if maybe these GM
insects could act as a preventative measure for two viral diseases carried by
mosquitoes: dengue and chikungunya.
In theory, these GM mosquitoes would kill off their potentially disease-carrying counterparts. Thanks to the overuse of insecticides, a type of biting mosquito that transports the diseases are now immune to four types of insecticides previously used to kill them. Yet, this still leaves two types of insecticides that can kill the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
The British biotech firm who came up with this terrible idea is called Oxitec. The firm is able to genetically modify Aedes aegypti with tiny parts of genes from E. coli and the herpes simplex virus that is assumed to be only deadly to mosquito larvae. The company claims the synthetic DNA is not dangerous to animals. It also claims that only male mosquitoes will be genetically modified, and since males do not bite people, there is no threat to the public. When the males breed with the unmodified females, their offspring will die.
Although a representative from the FDA has said the agency won't give regulatory approval until it has reviewed the pertinent information, the public is not happy. More than 130,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to stop the “experiment.” The potential consequences of GMO bugs biting people are completely unknown. Even though neither virus has a cure the two diseases are rare in the US.
Dengue and chikungunya
Asia, Europe, and Africa have all had outbreaks of the chikungunya virus. Outbreaks have also occurred in countries located near the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The virus causes a range of symptoms, including:
Joint and muscle pain
Dengue, also called break-bone fever, causes similar symptoms, including:
Muscle, joint, or bone pain
Extreme pain behind the eyes
Decreased white cell count
Bleeding of the nose, gums, or other manifestations
The virus is characterized by a high fever and a minimum of two additional symptoms from those listed above. People who develop dengue hemorrhagic fever typically have a fever for 2 to 7 days.
History of GM mosquitoes
This isn't the first time Oxitec has released millions of GM mosquitoes. In 2012, it let loose 3.3 million in the Cayman Islands where, according to the company, the GM mosquitoes successfully took out the targeted insects and no humans were harmed. However, the locals reportedly were not told of the possibility of GM female mosquitoes being included in the experiment, females that could bite people.
This was not the company's only experiment. Around 70 million GM mosquitoes are in the world now thanks to Oxitec.
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the
fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse
University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group
exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy.
Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel,
Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's
Natural Healing Tips
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