Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes May Be Released in Florida Keys

Photo Courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk

Photo Courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk

“Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases,” stated  usatoday.com. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood, according to the website.

The mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and chikungunya, another tropical disease that” has swept through the Caribbean and is now showing up in Florida,” according to NPR.

The male mosquitoes, created by the British biotech firm Oxitec, are engineered to keep their partners from producing offspring when they mate in the wild. The number of mosquitoes capable of spreading the diseases would be reduced if enough wild mosquitoes mate with the genetically modified population, announced time.com.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Micheal Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug administration will allow the experiment, as stated in usatoday.com.

Despite the benefits of reducing  of dengue and chikungunya, two viral diseases that cause a number of uncomfortable conditions, many are wary about releasing genetically modified organisms into the wild. More than 130,000 people have signed a Change.org petition opposing the release of the mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, according to time.com