Mutant mosquito introduction plans for the Florida Keys to combat Dengue Fever is sparking stinging reactions among residents. Already plagued by mosquitoes, the release of genetically-modified insects may cause unintended results in the sun-soaked region.
Monday, WebProNews reported on a UK-based company's intentions to release a species of mosquito that could possibly shorten the lifespan of newly-hatched insects. In doing so, it will lessen the population.In turn, the number of Dengue fever cases is also decreased. That's the theory.
However, some residents in the Florida Keys are not convinced, and are quite spooked by the novel idea of introducing a laboratory-created species into the environment.
A mutant mosquito idea, while interesting, has attracted a Change.org petition to stop the plans altogether. So far, the "Say no to genetically modified mosquitoes release in the Florida Keys" petition has about 103,000 signatures (current as of 10:51 a.m. EDT).
"We need more data. If something goes wrong the consequences could be catastrophic not only for humans but also the whole ecosystem, and I don't want my family being used as laboratory rats for this," said Mila de Mier, the author of the petition against mutant mosquitoes.
Similar efforts are underway in Malaysia, where Dengue fever has claimed scores of lives in the past decade. Just last year, the government released 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into the forests to curb the disease.
Dengue fever is a growing crisis and is responsible for over 100 million diagnosed cases. It presents with similar symptoms of the flu. However, sources say warm climates like the Florida Keys are prime territory for the disease-carrying insects to set up shop.
The mutant mosquito introduction may have the lives of residents at heart. However, the thought of genetically-modified creatures flying around is still unsettling.