GMO mosquitoes could be cause of Zika outbreak, critics say

January 30 2016

The latest contagious virus freaking out the globe, particularly women worried about birth defects, may have been caused by the presence of genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMMs) in Brazil.

With international health experts convening in Geneva to discuss the outbreak of and possible cures for the Zika virus, questions are being raised as to whether the GMMs are to blame.

oxitecIn mid-2012, British biotech company Oxitec released the super bugs with the aim of reducing the overall mosquito population that spreads dengue fever, the Zika virus, and chikungunya in northeast Brazil.


Concerns raised about GMMs

At the time, concerns were raised about the release of GMMs without further studies into possible side effects.

helen wallace.jpg“It’s a very experimental approach which has not yet been successful and may cause more harm than good,” Dr Helen Wallace (photo), director of GeneWatch, told the Guardian in 2012.

The first cases of Zika in humans were reported in the south American country last May with up to 1.5 million people now thought to be affected by the virus, which Oxitec’s critics note is the same area where the GMMs were released.

Since the outbreak, there have been over 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly in Brazil, although various others causes can also be attributed to the rise.

The Aedes aegypti –  the very type Oxitec targeted with its GMMs

The Aedes aegypti mosquito sub-species that carries both the Zika virus and dengue is the very type Oxitec targeted with its GMMs.

The aim of Oxitec’s GM program was to release only male Aedes mosquitoes into the wild and they would in turn produce offspring with their virus carrying female counterparts.

This offspring would then die off before breeding age due to the GM coding in their genes, as long as the antibiotic tetracycline wasn’t present, which would override the GM DNA.

Sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Accidental or a deliberate plan

There is already a known survival rate of up to five percent in these GMMs regardless of the presence of tetracycline.

This antibiotic, which is often used to treat teenage acne, can be found in nature too, showing up in soil, surface water, and food, with some research stating that the GMM survival rate could potentially increase to 15 percent.

READ MORE: Genetically engineered mosquitoes battle Zika virus in Brazil

Oxitec critics also suggest that in the absence of studies into the potential knock-on effects of this in these mutated mosquitoes, it’s possible they could in fact thrive in the wild with unknown mutations taking place in GMMs, which in turn could worsen the spread the Zika virus.

Calls for further studies into GMMs prior to their release by Oxitec to answer such questions went unanswered, however.

While this Jurassic Park-type scenario could have been accidental, the recent UK TV series “Utopia” suggests it could be a deliberate plan to reduce the global population.

2 thoughts on “GMO mosquitoes could be cause of Zika outbreak, critics say

  1. Pingback: Study Confirms that US Introduced Dengue Fever in Cuba in 1981 | JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

  2. Pingback: Study confirms that US introduced Dengue Fever in Cuba in 1981 | Tony Seed's Weblog

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