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Advocates Challenge FDA on First Ever GE Mosquito Release

Government fails to assess risks to dozens of endangered species from novel experiment releasing millions of GE mosquitoes


Today a coalition of public interest groups filed a formal pre-litigation notice with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they intend to sue the agency for its approval to release millions of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes into the environment. The groups, including Center for Food Safety (CFS), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Foundation Earth, the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, and Food and Water Watch, have issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue FDA for failing to take into account impacts on endangered species in a fast-tracked approval of a release of GE mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. Center for Food Safety's legal team will represent the groups and local residents who have voiced concern as they defend forty-three protected species. The release of the GE mosquitoes would be the first ever in the United States, but FDA has failed to conduct adequate testing for impacts.

"FDA cannot just arbitrarily approve releasing an entirely novel genetically engineered organism into the environment without accounting for risks. The Florida Keys are home to some of the most diverse and threatened species in our country, and we will not stand by and allow the government to break the law by approving this unprecedented experiment without analyzing its impacts," said George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney for the Center for Food Safety.

Threats to endangered and protected species are detailed in numerous comments to FDA, including comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requesting more data. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), FDA is required to consult FWS on these potential impacts to protected species. But in its haste to approve the mosquitoes under pressure from manufacturers Oxitec, the groups argue in their notice of intent, among other things, that "FDA's 'No Effect' Determinations Are Arbitrary and Did Not Use the Best Scientific and Commercial Data Available."

If FDA does not cure these violations within sixty days, the listed organizations intend to file suit against the responsible agencies and officials to enforce the ESA.

Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. CFS's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.

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