‘Halt this nightmare immediately’: EPA approves release of genetically-engineered mosquitoes

J. Corbett,  AlterNet,  2022.

Environmental and public health advocates responded with alarm after the Biden administration on Monday gave a British biotechnology company a green light to unleash billions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Oxitec an experimental use permit that could lead to the release of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes in four California counties and extend a widely criticized program in Florida’s Monroe County. While the release is intended to investigate whether the GE mosquito can reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—which carry various viruses—the species is not common in California and there are no reported cases of the targeted diseases. “This experiment is unnecessary and even dangerous, as there are no locally acquired cases of dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, or Zika in California,” declared Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety. Oxitec’s altered male mosquitoes are supposed to pass on a gene that causes their offspring to die before reaching maturity. However, a peer-reviewed study published in September 2019 by Yale University researchers showed that releasing the GE mosquitoes in Brazil not only failed to reduce populations of Aedes aegypti but also resulted in hybrid mosquitoes.

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