Calif. Legislature bites back at GE mosquito releases

L. Patrick,  Sun Gazette,  2022.

A biotech company created millions of genetically modified mosquitoes, but not in the Jurassic Park sense. The lab grown species could actually lower the population of an invasive mosquito that carries a plethora of diseases on its shoulders.On Nov. 3, several members of the California legislature sent a letter to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) asking it to delay the release of millions of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes in Tulare County by Oxitec, a British biotech company, in the interest of further regulatory review. The GE mosquitoes are meant to lower the population of Aedes aegypti, an invasive mosquito that has been plaguing communities in the county for the last few years. However, members of the legislature are pushing for the DPR to resist the GE mosquitoes because of unforeseen effects they might have on people and the environment. This would be the first experimental release of of the non-biting mosquitoes, which OxiTec calls “friendly mosquitoes,” in Tulare County. Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the release of the mosquitoes on March 7, the agency has been awaiting approval from DPR for several months, even after a 15-month scientific evaluation process and a 15-day public comment period that ended on April 19.

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