by Long Island Attorney Paul A. Lauto, Esq.
Chikungunya and Dengue are two extremely painful viral diseases that are now being perceived as a growing threat to the United States. These diseases are commonly carried and spread through insects such as mosquitoes, which have now established a resistance to four out of six pesticides used to kill them. Running short on options, the FDA is to consider a controversial method by British Biotech company Oxitec, which arguably may solve the problem.
The purported panacea would allow for the release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes (GMM’s) in the Florida Keys. The belief is that if the millions of non-blood sucking male GMM’s are released, they will mate with the female blood sucking carrier mosquitoes, rendering their offspring deceased before they can fly or bite. The problem is that in order to accomplish this feat, female GMM’s, which bite for blood, have to be manually removed. If female GMM’s were used, we run the risk of them biting humans and mixing their genetically modified DNA with our blood with untold consequences.
While Oxitec maintains that their method is safe and has been used elsewhere with great success, many residents of the Florida Keys do not wish to be used a guinea pigs to combat a problem that is currently virtually non-existent in Florida. In addition, opponents espouse that it is essentially impossible to weed out all of the female GMM’s, creating an unacceptable risk with unknown consequences. If word gets out that the Florida Keys are being used as a genetic modification testing ground, it could deliver a severe blow to their heavily relied on tourism industry. One thing we do appear to know is that if the FDA approves this experiment, it will cement on an international level the power and influence wielded by the Biotech Industry in our country.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.