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Stop Oxitec’s Risky and Unnecessary GMO Mosquito Experiments in California! California residents, click to take action today. The deadline is Tuesday, April 19 at 5PM PT.
If you live outside of California, but have family, friends, or co-workers that live in CA, please share this action with them right away.
British biotech corporation, Oxitec, has petitioned the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) to allow an experimental release of up to 2.5 billion genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Tulare County, and potentially other counties, over the next 2 years. The GMO mosquitoes are being regulated as a pesticide because they’re considered a biopesticide, a living pesticide.
Oxitec has made claims that their “sterile” male GMO mosquitoes will mate with wild female mosquitoes, producing only male offspring, and therefore crashing wild Aedes aegypti populations and reducing mosquito-borne diseases.
Oxitec says, “In California, since first being detected in 2013, [the Aedes aegypti] mosquito has rapidly spread to more than 20 counties throughout the state, increasing the risk of transmission of dengue, chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever and other diseases.”
Their allies and the media often repeat this scaremongering while cheerleading for Oxitec.
But consider these very important facts:
There have been zero cases of locally transmitted diseases from Aedes aegypti in California. ZERO. In fact, there are virtually no cases of Aedes aegypti transmitted disease anywhere in the entire United States.
Even if, hypothetically, Oxitec’s GMO mosquitoes could reduce wild Aedes aegypti populations, there have been no studies on the ability of GMO mosquitoes to reduce disease transmission. But this hasn’t stopped Oxitec from misleading regulators and the public by making this false disease-reduction representation.
GMO mosquitoes will not reduce or eliminate pesticide spraying. When municipalities spray, they’re targeting all mosquitoes, not just Aedes aegypti, which represent a small subset of local mosquito populations. There are many species of mosquitoes. So chemical pesticide applications will continue, even if GMO Aedes aegypti mosquitoes could hypothetically reduce wild Aedes aegypti populations.
Oxitec cannot be trusted. The corporation has repeatedly lied to the public over the years, refused to produce information requested by the public and independent experts, and resorted to corrupt, backdoor political lobbying in order to get approvals from the federal EPA. Expert scientists have exposed flaws and expressed concerns with Oxitec’s GMO mosquitoes. The company has a concerning history of misrepresentation or failure in all other venues where they have experimented, followed by purposeful efforts to cover up those issues and attack the researchers who publish unfavorable findings.
There is already a non-GMO biopesticide mosquito that has a proven record of success: Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. Wolbachia is a natural bacterium and when the bacterium is introduced into Aedes aegypti eggs, not only does the Wolbachia strategy reduce wild mosquito populations, but it can also reduce mosquito-borne illness.
According to an article published in the journal Nature, there are two approaches to tackling dengue with Wolbachia. The first involves releasing only Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes. Since 2015, this strategy has been successfully adopted in Singapore and Guangzhou, China, and even in parts of the United States. Because eggs produced from uninfected females that mate with Wolbachia-infected males do not hatch, the number of mosquitoes is greatly reduced. The second approach, used by some cities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Australia, among others, involves releasing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes of both sexes. The infected females pass the bacteria to their offspring. Over time (several months to years, depending on characteristics of the release site), the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes replace the native population. Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes do not transmit dengue.
Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes have a proven success record, are not genetically engineered, and have a far higher rate of acceptance among the public. Why are we not using this technology instead of Oxitec’s risky and unnecessary GMO mosquitoes?
Oxitec was already allowed to complete a small experimental trial in the Florida Keys last year. Where is the data? Our Coalition Against GMO Mosquitoes has made repeated requests to regulators to see the data from that experiment. But Oxitec is holding the data hostage, saying they will release data to the public only after California and Florida state regulators approve their next stage of expanded, large-scale experiments. WTF?! Our taxpayer funded regulators seem to be bowing to this unreasonable demand by a foreign corporation. This is absolutely insane.
Before any further consideration is given to Oxitec, the public demands and must receive:
All unredacted data from Oxitec’s 2021 experiment in the Florida Keys
Endangered Species Act (ESA) analyses
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
Studies on human health impacts
GMO mosquitoes represent the most complex and controversial biopesticide ever considered. CDPR must reject Oxitec’s application for large-scale, open-air releases of risky, unnecessary GMO mosquitoes.
CDPR is taking public comments until Tuesday, April 19 at 5PM PT. Let's all do what we can to swat Oxitec's GMO mosquitoes before they reach California.
The GMO/Toxin Free USA Team