Florida Keys Residents Resist Release of Dengue Fever-Immune Mosquitoes

from guardian.co.uk: A British company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito to resist the spread of dengue fever is coming up against growing opposition to a plan to release the insects into the Florida Keys. A Change.org petition started by a woman in Key West opposing the release has garnered almost 90,000 signatures and rising. “Say no to genetically modified mosquitoes release,” the petition demands. Mila de Mier, the author of the petition, began the campaign because she said she was worried about the lack of scientific understanding of what the insects could do to the delicate ecosystem of the Florida Keys. She accused Oxitec, the UK-based biotech firm that has developed the mosquito, of failing to listen to local wishes. “We need more data. If something goes wrong the consequences could be catastrophic not only for humans but also the whole ecosystem, and I don’t want my family being used as laboratory rats for this,” de Mier told the Guardian. Oxitec, whose headquarters are in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has developed the genetically modified mosquito in laboratories over the past 10 years, releasing it into the open in the Cayman islands for the first time in 2009. The insect belongs to the Aedes aegypti species which is the carrier of dengue fever.

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