Mutant Mosquito: The name itself injects fear into my heart. For whatever reason, whether it be genetics or an old gypsy curse, I attract mosquitoes like nobody else. I dread summer, especially if I'm going to Florida. The mosquitoes there are huge and they might get worse if residents' fears prove true.
A British company, Oxitec, is wanting to release a bunch of genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys to combat the spread of Dengue fever, a disease the insects carry. Residents of the Keys are combatting the release of these so-called mutant mosquitoes through a Change.org petition.
The petition says the company wants to use the Florida Keys as a testing ground for these new mosquitoes. They feel that the release of these mutant bugs may damage the fragile environment in the Florida Keys. The residents demand more testing and experimentation before they take the mosquitoes out for a test drive.
Of course, the main reason behind these new insects is to stop the spreading of Dengue fever. That's a noble cause, right? The petition claims that the disease in question has been absent from the Keys since 2010 due to increased control methods and public education. The residents think a genetically mutated mosquito that's resistant to Dengue fever could have a new strain of the fever evolve that's even more dangerous.
It's true that genetically modified plants and animals can sometimes have unintended consequences on the environment. Oxitec should definitely perform more tests and have peer reviews to show the residents of the Keys that these mosquitoes would indeed keep them safer. If not, we may end up with something like this:[h/t: The Guardian]