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Florida is releasing 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes into the world. Here’s why

Critics call the move a ‘Jurassic Park’ experiment

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A captured Aedes aegypti mosquito is shown at the Florida Mosquito Control District Office, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Marathon, Fla. Pending a November referendum vote, mosquito control officials are prepared to release up to three million mosquitoes produced by the British company Oxitec over the next three to six months.

A captured Aedes aegypti mosquito is shown at the Florida Mosquito Control District Office, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Marathon, Fla. Pending a November referendum vote, mosquito control officials are prepared to release up to 3 million mosquitoes produced by the British company Oxitec over the next three to six months.

Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

Florida officials plan to release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys over the next two years as a way to prevent diseases like the Zika virus.

  • The project will begin in 2021.
  • The Environment Protection Agency approved the idea in May.

The project will test if one of these mosquitoes can work better than spraying insecticides to stop these insects from spreading potentially fatal viruses, according to CNN.

The modified mosquito — named OX5034 — can produce female offspring who die at the larval stage “well before hatching and growing large enough to bite and spread disease,” CNN reports.

This would stop the mosquitoes from giving birth to females, who carry the diseases.

What critics say:

The proposal has won state and federal approval. But critics said this isn’t the time to be running an experiment akin to “Jurassic Park.”

With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida — the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change — the administration has used tax dollars and government resources for a Jurassic Park experiment, said Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, in a statement. Now the Monroe County Mosquito Control District has given the final permission needed. What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because EPA unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed, she added.

Life finds a way, after all.

This is already happening:

  • A similar brand of mosquitoes were released by Oxitec in Brazil. According to Fox News, multiple studies found the project worked to stop disease-carrying insects. It proved to be cost effective as well.