Authorities approve release of 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes despite opposition- Technology News, Firstpost

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A proposal of releasing as many as 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida starting from 2021 and continuing up to 2022 received the final approval from local authorities, media reports have confirmed.

This move comes in opposition to the appeal of various environmental advocacy groups and locals of the region. After receiving state and federal approvals, the project was granted the final approval by the Monroe County Mosquito Control District. According to the CNN report, the pilot project has been aimed at testing the productivity of genetically modified mosquitoes in controlling the Aedes aegypti.

 Authorities approve release of 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes despite opposition

The release of 750 million mosquitoes, over a two-year period in Florida, may begin in 2021. Image credit: Centre for Food Safety

If proven useful, these mosquitoes called OX5034 could be used as an alternative to the act of spraying insecticides. The Aedes aegypti is a dangerous species of mosquito that acts as vectors to various deadly diseases like dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. The initiative has also bagged the green signal from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, compared the project with a “Jurassic Park experiment” and alleged that the administration has used “tax dollars and government resources” to work on a project that “maybe damaging to public and environmental health and [their] local economy”.

According to Jaydee’s claims, the EPA has “unlawfully refused” to analyse the environmental risks such an experiment can cause. “The Mosquito Control Board has an obligation to our community,” said Barry Wray, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. He added that they needed “true solutions” which could be beneficial for both the local community and the ecosystem.

Oxitec, the company behind the production of the genetically modified mosquitoes, claims that these beings have also gained approval for release in Harris County, Texas.

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