Why Florida is releasing genetically modified mosquitoes

M. Murphy,  The Telegraph,  2021.

The thousands of lab-grown mosquitoes hatching in humid gardens across Florida’s tropical Key West next week will be blissfully ignorant of the controversy they have caused. Billboards have already begun appearing near busy motorways in protest of their arrival, with one splashed with the words “risky, unnecessary, unwanted” aside a giant picture of the blood-thirsty insect. “The word ‘genetically modified’ scares people,” says Douglas Mader, a local vet and newspaper columnist living in the Lower Keys. “They think oh my god, they’re releasing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and they are going to bite me and I’m going to turn into a zombie”. The creatures are the creation of Oxitec, a Bill Gates-backed biotechnology company based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Grey Frandsen, its chief executive, and around 20 scientists at Oxitec’s labs, have made it their mission to stop the spread of diseases such as dengue, Zika and malaria by controlling mosquitoes’ reproduction.

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