More than 750 million genetically-altered mosquitoes will be released in the Florida Keys over a period of two years, with the project being approved by local authorities. The main aim is to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, but some voices are against the project.
While the Monroe County Mosquito Control District placed the final signature on the paper, which has already been approved at a federal state level, some residents and environmental advocacy groups have argued that there are better causes on which money could be spent.
Concerns and complaints
According to one of the critics, who is the policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment Center for Food Safety, it is not clear if there are potential risks since EPA refused to release information related to potential environmental risks.
On the other side, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has decided that the release of the genetically modified mosquitoes is the best way to combat the spread of a species of mosquitoes known as Aedes aegypti, which is responsible for the release of several diseases, including Zika and Dengue fever.
Created for destruction
The male mosquitoes were altered with the help of a special gene, which inhibits the survivability rate of female offspring. Since males feed on nectar instead of blood, they aren’t responsible for the spread of diseases. Females will consume blood before the eggs reach a mature stage.
As new males will appear, they will mate with other females and lead to an overall decline of the species. A batch of modified mosquitoes has been released already in Brazil. Studies and surveys had revealed that the strategy was very effective, as massive population declines were reported while overall costs and risks were lower.
Despite the protest of some critics, the initial release in Florida could pave the way for a nation-wide initiative if studies will show that it is effective.