Genetically-engineered mosquitoes that kill their own offspring may soon be released on the Florida Keys by Oxitec, a UK-based firm. It's now up to the FDA to stop them.
Oxitec says the experiment will have no effect on wild mosquito populations, only on those that carry dengue fever, and therefore it's "unlikely," they say, to impact the environment. But what if it does?
Mosquito offspring (larvae) play an important role in our environment. They filter polluted water, eat algae and bacteria growing on rocks and provide food for fish, birds and other predatory insects.
So far Oxitec has sought very little permission from residents, and opponents are calling for further testing. Of greatest concern, Andrew Pollack's NY Times report warns, is that "Once genetically modified insects are released, they cannot be recalled."
Tell FDA: NO GMO mosquitoes!
Friends of the Earth says, "through antiquated laws, the Food and Drug Administration could approve Oxitec’s risky experiment at any time -- without any public input or thorough scientific review of the possible impacts -- setting a dangerous precedent."
We, the undersigned understand the risks posed by mosquitoes that carry dengue fever.
However, we also understand that long-term risks posed by genetically altering our food, environment, animals and insects is not known. Sufficient testing has not been done to prove the proposed release of GMO mosquitoes into the Key West environmentis either safe or effective in controlling dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
In fact, in one study overseen by the National Institute of Health, male mosquitoes in a cage study did not mate properly.
Therefore we believe, at the very least, the Precautionary Principle should be employed in any proposed action that could cause negative impact on the environment, especially in a situation where the practice cannot be reversed or is capable of creating long-term and/or serious consequences.
The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or the environment, the burden of proof that it is not harmful lies with those responsible for the action.
While we are aware that it is not currently decided who will be responsible for releasing genetically-modified insects into the Key West environment, we request that whomever the responsibility ultimately settles upon, take these concerns, and those of others, into consideration.
We appreciate your attention to this important issue.