July 17, 2012 by cd · Comments Off
Mutant Mosquito: It’s not a title of an upcoming horror movie nor a new superhero character in comic books.
A mutant mosquito is actually a genetically modified mosquito believed by scientists to be the answer to the deadly dengue fever.
British company Oxitec is planning to release a swarm of these all male “mutant mosquitoes” to ward off dengue virus carrying mosquitoes. If these mutan male mosquitoes mate with the females on the field, they would produce offspring that do not live very long. Since it will control the population of these blood-sucking insects, so does the spread of dengue.
The company plans to release between 5,000 and 10,000 of these mutant mosquitoes into Florida keys to find experiment if the theory will work. Florida residents, however, are skeptical that these genetically altered mosquitoes might cause some other problems to the environment and to the people living in the area.
Residents of the Keys feel they are being treated as “lab rats” so they signed a petition on Change.org to stop Oxitec in releasing the mutant mosquitoes. They think that the experiment is still immature and it may cause an unexpected problem that is more deadlier than dengue. They also claim that there was a significant decrease of dengue cases in the region since 2010 due to awareness.
There are an an estimated 50 million cases of dengue worldwide every year. In South Florida, dengue cases doubled each year since 2009.