KEY WEST, Fla., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Nearly 140,000 Floridians have signed a petition against a proposal to let a British company release genetically modified mosquitoes in their state.
The company, Oxitec, is hoping to release male mosquitoes that have been modified to produce offspring that won't "survive to adulthood." The genetically modified mosquitoes will instinctually seek out wild female mosquitoes, and their producing offspring that won't survive will lower the total population. They want to do this in an effort to fight the extremely painful and often lethal dengue virus, which is spread by mosquitoes.
The Change.org petition speaks out against these "mutant bugs," and it cites genetically modified crop experiments that have allegedly gone wrong. It also expresses concern for the Florida Keys Bats, which feed on mosquitoes. They also say dengue has been "absent from Key West since 2010."
Chikungunya fever and dengue fever, both spread by mosquitoes, are very active on nearby Caribbean islands.
Oxitec will have to get approval from the FDA before they can begin their experiment.