mosquitoes and beyond: NO to GMO

So now we learn a company called Oxitec is getting ready to release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes in Key West, Florida, starting this summer and carrying on through 2022. They plan to expand the experiment to include Harris County, Texas as well.

The Oxitec GMO mosquito project is aimed at making it so that the progeny of normal female mosquitoes who mate with male GMO mosquitoes are rendered less viable to survive to maturity. This leads to the “temporary collapse of a wild population.”  One has to wonder how both the altered mosquitoes and the environmental collapses might affect other insects, birds, and mammals that feed on the mosquitoes.

It’s amazing to me that this got the go-ahead from both the Environmental Protection Agency (that’s what they call it, anyway) and the State of Florida, particularly during this time of a heavily studied but still poorly understood pandemic of theoretically zoonotic origins, environmental issues notwithstanding. 

The experiment’s approvals came over the objections of local residents and environmental groups who assert that the risks have not been seriously analyzed. A number of environmental groups plan to sue the EPA over the matter. 

I get that mosquitoes are a real problem for us, spawning serious diseases. I also get that the expressed intent of engineering the GMO mosquitoes is to ultimately reduce the threatening population. I am sorry, though, genetically modifying the composition of life itself to address our problems is not an acceptable approach.

We are not God, not the universe, and we are absolute neophytes in our understanding of our world and its complex interrelationships. I trust no man or woman to act in such a capacity, altering the very design of earth’s creatures.

This is not science. It’s a crap shoot.

Tampering with the genetics of life on this earth is dangerous business. We really have no idea what the ultimate ramifications are or could be. Nor will we know the broad answers to that question in the space of a season, or a year, or ten years.

This is not Oxitec’s first foray into such experimentation. From 2013 to 2015, they released 450,000 GMO mosquitoes every week in the vicinity of Jacobina, Brazil. The results from that experiment were touted as successful, but are, in fact, unclear, when you consider a Yale study that raised questions about the unintended results of the experiment. Of course, Oxitec rebutted such concerns, and what do you know, here we are getting ready to do it again. 

I imagine that when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of your investors, it helps to grease the skids.

Beyond the unknown impacts of these experiments, it is also disturbing to ponder the notion that once you get comfortable modifying plants, and then mosquitoes, bats, and who knows what else, how long will it be before they come to genetically modify You for whatever purposes?

It’s just not that hard to imagine a government somewhere applying that kind of technology in more disturbing ways. Even as we read about the GMO mosquitoes, we learn that China is amassing a vast database of DNA information, sending its police out to collect blood samples from its male population, including children.

At the same time, worldwide, many people have, in the course of a few short months, learned to desire wide scale testing, clamor for a vaccine, and accept the idea of contact tracing. 

It is just not that great a leap to imagine GMO being put to unacceptable and unimaginably dangerous uses.

Conspiracies or not, entities like the Gates Foundation have their hand in all of this.

I trust no profiteering humans, no matter how benevolent the veneer may be polished, to mess around with life in such a fashion. 

NO to GMO.