THE CENTER SQUARE:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month approved an Experimental Use Permit submitted by a British biotech company to release millions of genetically engineered mosquitos into California to combat diseases that don’t exist there.
The British firm Oxitec, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, submitted its application last August. The application received 12,691 comments and the pilot project has received widespread public opposition.
Oxitec claims releasing the genetically engineered mosquitos will help combat the mosquito-spread diseases of Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and the Zika virus – diseases that don’t currently exist in California.
They are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), which aren’t native to California, the California Department of Health states. However, they’ve been identified in multiple counties, according to a map updated last month.
Despite their presence, transmission of these three diseases in California is zero. As of March 2, 2022, there are no cases of Dengue in California, the CDC reports.
In 2020, 86 dengue cases were reported in California of which 24% were associated with travel, the CDC reported.