Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Unleashed

Brazil discharged genetically modified mosquitoes (GMMs) into the environment after declaring a public health emergency due to the dengue fever pandemic.

In the initial two months of 2024, there were reports of over a million cases of dengue fever, with approximately half of the global population residing in regions susceptible to the disease. Brazilian authorities have granted private companies permission to propagate GMMs carrying genes that cause the premature demise of female progeny. The GMM is anticipated to eradicate entire mosquito populations and halt disease transmission.

Supposedly contracted to perform this task is Oxitec, a company that can eradicate at least one species of mosquito from a given area by as much as 90%. The system was formerly implemented throughout the Florida Keys in the United States in 2021. Officials purportedly disregarded petitions submitted by residents in opposition to the release. According to Futurism, between 750 million and 1 billion GMMs were ultimately discharged in Florida between 2021 and 2022. Locals in Florida reportedly characterized the effort as “terrorism.”

No long-term investigations have been conducted thus far to ascertain the environmental or animal health consequences of this endeavor. There have been apprehensions regarding the potential for these GMMs to generate viable progeny that may survive and transmit their genes to indigenous insects, with unidentified repercussions. However, no evidence suggests that this could cause human injury.

Dengue fever is a prominent cause of illness in the regions afflicted, affecting approximately half of the global population. Brazil’s authorities are addressing the issue from various perspectives: vaccine initiatives are being implemented to ensure direct population protection, while the deployment of genetically modified mosquitoes aims to halt the transmission at its origin. Specially modified mosquitoes, sourced from the biotechnology firm Oxitec, are intended to diminish populations of natural mosquitoes.

Adjusting the modification allows for the indiscriminate impact on all progeny or the specific targeting of female offspring. When this occurs, the male progeny survives to mate with additional females and resume the process, while the female offspring perish.