Scientists Listen to Public Opinion on GMO Mosquitoes
There’s certainly mixed opinions when it comes to the release of genetically modified mosquitoes out into nature. Scientists have released these ‘special’ pests into certain areas in order to help fight mosquito borne disease, however they have come up against objections and want to find out what the public actually think. Here’s an article with more information.
When Monroe County held a nonbinding referendum last year on whether to allow the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes, most voters said yes. This was as the mosquito-borne Zika crisis was exploding. The Food and Drug Administration had already started to clear the way for the field trial. But residents of Key Haven–the proposed site of the mosquito control experiment–voted against it. And the company that breeds the mosquitoes started looking for another site.
The article refers to working with communities, and many of us, as responsible home owners can get involved in ensuring our own mosquito control is up to date. Just our own tiny contribution can have a big impact on the mosquito population and the spread of disease.
It’s understandable though that there are concerns when it comes to GMO mosquitoes, and just why the public are resisting. For many, they don’t understand the concept.
In recent years, scientists have been using new genetic tools to modify mosquitoes in their labs. Their goal — shared by a team of biologists at UC San Diego currently engaged in this research — is to develop new ways of fighting the spread of insect-borne diseases like Zika, malaria and dengue. But a new study led by a UC San Diego researcher finds that some Americans are strongly opposed to releasing genetically modified insects in the wild, presenting challenges to plans for testing this approach in the U.S.
It seems a large part of the issue is down to communication and engagement. The public want to know what creatures are being released into the environment and the implications involved. That’s fair enough and it’s good that scientists are listening to the voices of the many.