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Florida Keys Might be Getting Millions of Genetically-Modified New Residents

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) British researchers 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 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:

  • Fever

  • Joint and muscle pain

  • Rash

  • Swelling

  • Headaches

Dengue, also called break-bone fever, causes similar symptoms, including: 

  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain

  • Extreme pain behind the eyes

  • Rash

  • Severe headaches

  • 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.

See also:

Eliminate and Avoid Mosquitoes Naturally Without Dangerous Pesticides and Commercial Repellents

Natural Remedies for Bites and Stings

How to Minimize Exposure to Aerial and Ground Spraying of Pesticides

Use These Tips to Detox After Exposure to Aerial or Ground Sprayed Pesticides



About the Author

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, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.


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