The massive outbreak of the Zika Virus is causing a global panic, but some keen observers may have just found the source of the problem.
In 2012, British biotech company Oxitec released genetically modified mosquitoes (GMMs) with the aim of reducing the overall mosquito population that spreads diseases like dengue fever and the Zika Virus in northeast Brazil – ground zero of the current outbreak of Zika.
Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch, told the Guardian in 2012, “It’s a very experimental approach which has not yet been successful and may cause more harm than good.”
Oxitec’s program aimed to release only male Aedes mosquitoes into the wild, so they would in turn produce offspring with virus-carrying female counterparts. This offspring would then die off, hopefully, before breeding age due to the GM coding in their genes.
This die-off would only happen as long as the antibiotic tetracycline wasn’t present, which would override the GM DNA.
RT reports that the known survival rate of the GMMs was already at 5%, and the antibiotic can be found in nature, showing up in soil, surface water, and food, with some research stating that the GMM survival rate could potentially increase to 15 percent. So, there would be an extra 15% more disease-spreading mosquitoes than there were before the release of the GMMs.
Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the US-based Center for Food Safety, told Bloomberg News:
“They’re introducing into the ecosystem some genetic constructs that have never been there before,” and that, “it doesn’t solve the problem”, because other species of mosquito could still carry the Zika virus anyway.
The Zika outbreak has already been interpreted as a sort of eugenics WMD, as it has promoted a disturbing call for a no-child policy throughout many South American countries, so this concerning correlation between Zika’s ground zero and the release site of the GMMs must be adequately investigated.
Is the survival rate of the GMMs perhaps even higher than 15%? How can we prove that the GMMs have been responsible for the disastrous spread of the disease? If that is proven, how do we begin to hold Oxitec accountable?
How much money is now being pumped into private pharmaceutical companies to produce a vaccine for Zika? What will that mean for their share prices?