Florida Mom to Biotech Company Oxitec: Don’t Unleash Mutant Mosquitoes

  • Florida resident starts popular campaign on Change.org opposing release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys;
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently reviewing application for “mutant” mosquitoes from British biotech company Oxitec

KEY WEST, FLORIDA – More than 80,000 people have joined a growing campaign on Change.org calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to deny a British biotech company’s application seeking permission to release genetically modified mosquitoes in the United States. Oxitec’s application comes on the heels of a local community effort to stop a planned experiment to release the mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

Mila de Mier, a Key West mother of three, launched the campaign asking the FDA to deny Oxitec’s application. She says concerns about the lack of science and potential consequences of releasing an experimental organism on a delicate ecosystem spurred her to act.

“Oxitec’s business goal is to sell genetically modified mosquitoes in the United States,” said de Mier. “As a community we’ve already said we don’t want these mosquitoes in our backyards, but Oxitec isn’t listening. We need more definitive scientific studies that look at the potential long-term impacts on human and our natural environment, including the largest coral reef in North America.”

Oxitec says their genetically modified mosquitoes will help control mosquito populations by affecting how they breed. The company says their experimental mosquitoes are needed to stop the spread of diseases like Dengue Fever. But residents say current methods of mosquito control are effective, pointing to the decrease in Dengue Fever cases in recent years. (The last reported case of Dengue Fever in the Florida Keys was in 2010.)

In April, Key West passed a local ordinance prohibiting the release of Oxitec’s mosquitoes pending further testing on possible implications for the environment, including how the genetically modified mosquitoes would interact with wildlife.  Despite local opposition, Oxitec has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a patent on their mosquito. The FDA is currently reviewing their application.

“The Florida Keys is a beautiful place, and it’s my home,” de Mier added. “We won’t be lab rats just so this company can make money. Oxitec says we have to do this to control mosquitoes, but it’s just not true. Other methods of mosquito control are working. We don’t need to gamble with mutant mosquitoes.”

“We are increasingly seeing local communities use the tools on Change.org when they feel bullied by corporations or frustrated by government innaction,” said Corinne Ball, Change.org Deputy Campaign Director. “Anyone, anywhere can do what Mila and her neighbors are doing by starting a Change.org petition to demand action on the issues they care about.”

Live signature totals from Mila de Mier’s campaign:
http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no-to-genetically-modified-mosquitoes-release-in-the-florida-keys

Bloomberg coverage of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-03/mosquitoes-shoot-blanks-in-scientist-s-air-war-on-dengue.html

 

Source: Press Release Change.org


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