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GE Bug Makes Floridians Part of Oxitec’s Grand Experiment

Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - “The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District meets tomorrow to discuss the application from British firm Oxitec to release genetically engineered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

“We cannot stress strongly enough how dangerously misguided this application is. Oxitec hopes to use the neighborhoods and precious ecosystem of the Keys as their private, for-profit laboratory. The shame of it is, the company has no evidence the GE mosquitoes will even work in their stated aim of controlling Dengue fever. This feels much more like Oxitec testing its living, breeding technology than a serious attempt to control disease, and the people of Florida deserve protection.

“The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany said in February that the ‘risk assessment’ conducted in advance of the release of Oxitec’s GE mosquitoes in another country has been ‘scientifically deficient’ and made ‘questionable pivotal scientific assertion[s]’. This is simply not good enough, and we strongly urge the Food and Drug Administration to decline the application.

“We are also aware that Oxitec is hoping to conduct a similar outdoor experiment in the UK next year with their GE version of the diamondback moth, which attacks crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and rapeseed (canola). What impacts will such an experiment have on the birds that eat the moth? What happens to people if they inadvertently eat eggs this GE insect lays on the crop? How will they get the insects back if something goes wrong?

“There are better, safer ways to control Dengue and agricultural pests – we don’t need expensive GE insects. Oxitec badly needs FDA approval to keep their finances flowing. This is why the company downplays any concerns raised, but those concerns are still there and growing with time. The Federal Government must step in and prevent this unnecessary and risky trial.”

Read the issue brief on GE mosquitoes: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/briefs/genetically-engineered-mosquitoes/

Details on the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District town hall meeting to be held on March 15, 5:30p.m. EST: http://www.keysmosquito.org/

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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