FDA Subjects Floridians to GMO Experiment
- The FDA allows biotech giant to experiment in the U.S.
- GM mosquito deactivator switch rendered useless by common drug. Find out more…
- Discover how a tiny fish could be facing a GMO-heavy diet and how it may affect you.
“Yikes, the mosquitoes are really bad out here! It’s time to get some more fish.”
When I was a kid, I would spend my summers at a camp in the Florida Keys. I always noticed that the mosquitoes would get more intense toward the end of the sessions.
And one day, I finally figured out why… we needed more fish.
The Keys are full of areas with standing water –the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
And for many years, residents have reduced the numbers of these troublesome vectors with a safe, natural and effective solution – tiny fish called gambusia.
Gambusia can live in murky water and never need to be fed, because they eat mosquito larvae. This means they kill mosquitoes before they have the chance to become full-grown, disease-carrying menaces.
And luckily for Keys residents, these fish are easy to get…
If you have standing water, simply call the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and they will bring you some of these minnow-sized fish.
Some areas of the Keys have gambusia channels. These areas were specifically designed to attract breeding mosquitoes so that the stocked gambusia could eat their larvae. Source: conchscooter.blogspot.org
Then just let these tiny assassins do their thing and violà, your mosquito situation is under control
But due to another poor and dangerous decision by the FDA, it looks like these little bug crushers are going to have some competition in the mosquito population control game.
Some genetically modified competition, to be exact.
FDA Greenlights GMO Menace
Last week, the FDA announced it’s approved the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.
Releasing these winged mutations has been a possibility for this group of tiny islands for a couple of years, and even with strong community resistance, it’s now a reality.
Oxitec, a British biotech company, has been itching to get these GM mosquitoes into the Keys for years and are looking forward to unleashing these mutants into the environment.
And seems it like the first U.S. case of locally transmitted Zika virus was just the catalyst the Feds needed to greenlight their project.
The GM mosquitos are members of the Aedes aegypti species that carries Zika and other infectious diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever and yellow fever.
Male mosquitoes are unable to bite and will not be able to spread diseases. Furthermore, their greatest “feature” as highlighted by Oxitec is a special protein they are implanted with that will kill any offspring they create with wild female mosquitoes before they reach adulthood.
However, that does mean that these offspring may survive long enough to become part of the food chain.
These mosquitoes have already been released in Brazil, the Cayman Islands and Panama, but long-term environmental effects still remain unknown. And lots of folks are curious if it might affect their health directly.
Kieys neighborhoods show their resistance to the GMO experiments going on in their backyards. Source: NPR.org
For instance, the tiny gambusia fish eats mosquito larvae, and birds eat the gambusia and adult mosquitoes, and alligators eat birds, and people eat alligators. But it’s unclear if the GM mosquitoes moving up the food chain will have any negative health effects on animals and humans alike.
But what’s more frightening, the introduction of these mosquitoes is irreversible. Once they are out there, we won’t be able to find them if we discover they can cause problems in the future.
Oxitec reports that this is not a worry because the mosquitoes cannot breed.
But that’s not entirely true.
A report Oxitec released in 2012 reports that the GM mosquitoes have a 15 percent survival rate when a common antibiotic, tetracycline, is present in the environment. This is because the antibiotic can bind to their modified gene and inactivate it. This means their self-destruct function will never turn on.
Even a very tiny amount can repress the lethal protein. Since antibiotics are so prevalent, it’s quite likely some of these mosquitoes will thrive and could even create more wild mosquitoes in the right circumstances.
As for the residents of the Florida Keys, thousands of them aren’t thrilled about the FDA’s decision. A Change.org petition gathered 160,000 names after being started by Key West resident Mila de Mier. Many residents are upset that the experimental process is being carried out in their backyards – a fear they’ve never had with gambusia.
For now, because of emerging Zika cases, Keys residents and everyone else should protect themselves from mosquitoes, GMO or not.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily Insider
Written By Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.
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