A confidential internal document obtained by civil society groups shows genetically modified mosquitoes described by their manufacturer, UK company Oxitec, as “sterile” are in fact not sterile and their offspring have a 15 percent survival rate in the presence of the common antibiotic tetracycline.
In the study described in this document, the genetically modified mosquitoes were fed cat food containing chicken contaminated with low levels of tetracycline and many of the mosquitoes were able to reproduce, with their offspring surviving to adulthood.
Last Thursday, a town hall meeting at Harvey Government Center in Key West drew a large crowd that erupted in opposition to a proposal to release genetically modified mosquitoes this coming Spring. It's a proposal from a seemingly strange choice – the United Kingdom.
British company Oxitec is petitioning the U.S. Government for permission to release male GE Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that contain a gene whereby they die unless receiving an antidote in the form of antibiotic tetracycline. The males released will live long enough to mate, but the offspring will die before maturation. The proposal that is now gaining ground has been in preparation for three years, with significant involvement by Wellcome Trust. In 2012, the plan to go through was thwarted when a resolution didn't pass.
Of course the company insists that the technology is totally safe.
The expressed idea behind using Key Haven for the …
Other countries where releases of Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes have been proposed include Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. The company has also proposed releasing GM diamond-back moths using the same technology in Britain, with the aim of reducing the impact of these pests on cabbage crops.The findings revealed in the document seriously call into question any use of Oxitec’s patented RIDL technology which depends on the use of tetracycline as a chemical switch to allow breeding of GM insects in the lab.
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