American opposition to genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes continues to increase (see 1, 2) and why wouldn’t it? Experts have questioned the effectiveness and safety of GE mosquitoes! Nevertheless, earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the release of billions more of them in California and Florida. In May a Florida state agency also approved several billion more for release into the Florida Keys. In the meantime, California environmentalists, lawmakers, and residents are still trying to stop this from happening there.
‘Too Many Unknown Factors’: California Lawmakers Object to Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes
“People have not consented to being part of this open-air biopesticide experiment,” said one advocate.
As environmental advocates call on regulators to “lead with sound science” regarding the proposed release of thousands of genetically engineered mosquitoes on a weekly basis in central California, eight Democratic lawmakers on Thursday demanded that officials reject the proposal without an in-depth review of its potential impacts.
Biotech company Oxitec aims to make California the second state—after Florida—to have an experimental release of its genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes, and has applied for a permit to conduct research with its product at 48 test sites in Tulare County. The experimental release would target the mosquito species Aedes aegypti and aim to reduce its population in Tulare County.
“Significant scientific research is still needed to understand the potential public health and environmental concerns associated with the release of this novel insect prior to any approval.”
According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), which can approve or deny the research authorization, between 5,000 and 30,000 GE mosquitoes would be released on a weekly basis at each site and the permit would be effective through April 30, 2024.
Read more: Lawmakers and Environmental Advocates Object to Proposed Weekly Release of Thousands of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes