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Florida man agonizes over mutant mosquito outbreak

Once upon a time, a company called Oxford Insect Technologies, or Oxitec, came up with a great solution to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases: there are more mosquitoes, especially the hordes of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Varieties that have been genetically modified (And EPA-certified!) That have a trait that causes their sperm to destroy themselves when fertilized with an egg. Back in 2016, I dubbed them “Sexytime Frankenstein Death Mosquitoes,” but sadly, this nickname was never caught.

Although this sounds utterly ridiculous on the surface. But there’s a reason: Of the 3,500 known mosquitoes on the planet, only two female species (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) actually bite humans for blood. How do these diseases spread in the first place? So you send the Oxitec mutant to mating with a human starving female that lays non-viable eggs, and then all of them die from mosquitoes that have a short lifespan, and within a few months they won̵

7;t be infested. Of mosquitoes anymore. Can kill you In the meantime, there are still plenty of hungry non-human mosquitoes in the world to keep ecosystems working for frogs or anything else planning to eat them, and Oxitec has truly succeeded by this! (Although not a perfect format)

… But the idea of ​​Sexytime Frankenstein Death Mosquitoes still amazes people and is. future Reportedly it tore one Florida city apart:

On Friday afternoon in March, a Florida Keys resident Virginia Donaldson told Futurism that two uniformed men walked into her home, saying they worked for. “Mosquito control” and asked her to participate in a new pest control program.

Donaldson was in a hurry, so she said she signed the clipboard and watched as they hung a small black mosquito trap from a tree in her house.

“I don’t even know what I signed, I just signed my name,” she said. ‘Oh, control mosquitoes, yes, whatever.’ ‘


Donaldson said that after she learned more about the trial, she decided she didn’t want to participate. A few days after the uniformed man installed the cup on her property, she lowered it into a plastic bag so that the liquid inside was not spilled out and left it on her yard chair.

Donaldson is not just an angry resident either. But of course, Oxitec representatives were granted the necessary permission to install mosquito cups, so they tried to back them up … which made people even more dissatisfied, leading to allegations of invasion and violence. Damage to property Which makes people even more angry Which led to an angry community meeting Which led to the discovery of supervision of other experiments:

Oxitec mosquito eggs, which will be sent to the Florida Keys in a “refill” kit distributed in the residents’ property alongside the collection cup, both female and male. But women with the gene are expected to be unable to survive without tetracycline, so they are expected to die as an embryo, the company says, about 1,000 males hatch from each batch over two. week The problem is, tetracycline is often used as an agricultural antibiotic in the area’s citrus groves.

The EPA prohibits Oxitec from emitting mosquitoes within 500 meters of anywhere tetracycline is used – several times the normal distance. MosquitoMosquitoes will travel for the rest of their lives. But there is no point in which the EPA is required to test water within the discharge area for signs of the compound.


Kuzma is also concerned about a lack of cage trials and a failure to study whether the genetically modified Oxitec mosquitoes mate with wild populations. over More likely to spread dengue – a possibility that no one cares to investigate or study.


At the same time, part of the regulatory process is hidden from the public eye. There were just two pages of the project’s paperwork on the EPA’s website during the 30-day public comment period scheduled for 2019, which received more than 31,000 comments opposed to the trial and only 56 supported.

future It has the whole story, like a dark sci-fi sitcom set in Florida.

Residents angry at releasing 500 million gene-hacked mosquitoes. [Dan Robitzki / Futurism]

Scientists have found a smart new way to fight mosquito-borne disease: more mosquitoes. [Thom Dunn / Upworthy]

Image: Alvesgaspar / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

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