A confidential internal Oxitec memo uncovered by Never Again confirms that GMO mosquito product manager Derric Nimmo is aware of up to 15% survival rates of GMO mosquitoes when those mosquitoes have access to tetracycline contamination during rearing in the lab, or when they encounter pet foods in the wild. This is a far cry from the company’s claims of “sterile” offspring or ones who largely die.
“Even small amounts of tetracycline can repress the RIDL system… They were getting 15% survival of a transgenic line.” — Derric Nimmo
Tetracycline is a factor because its used in the lab to switch-off the “lethal” gene, called RIDL, so that mass quantities of mosquitoes can be grown in batches. But if GMO mosquitoes find tetracycline in the wild or are exposed to it by cross-contamination in the laboratory the lethal gene can also be switched-off, resulting in unlimited numbers of GMO generations crossed with wild type mosquitoes. This is exactly the kind of unpredictable effect that is not addressed in any of Oxitec’s published studies.
Nimmo’s leaked company memo warns laboratory staff about an alarming number of ways that factory-made mosquitoes can become contaminated with tetracycline and reproduce in the wild without limits. Tetracycline contamination in the lab affects not only handling of insects, trays, and water but also *multi-generational* contamination as females transfer tetracycline to their eggs and both sexes can transfer it by contact with their legs.
One common way that GMO mosquitoes can find tetracycline in the wild is in pet foods, hospital waste water, and sewer water. The first method is the most important, as its how Nimmo discovered the 15% survival rate. Mosquitoes with access to common, everyday dog and cat foods could access enough tetracycline to shut off the “lethal” gene in 15% of their offspring, meaning all of those progeny would survive with unknown “combination” DNA from Oxitec’s line and the wild mate. And those offspring would also survive and mate with further unanticipated genetic mutations. Pet foods contain cheap meats which are raised with tetracycline antibiotic.
“It is known that tetracycline is routinely used to prevent infections in chickens, especially in the cheap, mass produced, chicken used for animal food. The chicken is heat treated before being used, but this does not remove all of the tetracycline. This meant that a small amount of tetracycline was being added from the food to the larvae and repressing the lethal system.” — Derric Nimmo
No scientist can know the effects of Oxitec’s artificial DNA mixing with wild DNA and reproducing for many generations. This is the reason for the company’s constant PR spin that mosquitoes are “sterile” or “can’t reproduce.” They know they can’t explain away all the ways nature can work around or adapt to the artificial DNA with unforeseen consequences. In the leaked memo, you’ll notice a high degree of concern, almost panic, that lab employees might accidentally contaminate the GMO mosquitoes and thereby bring uncontrolled reproduction and mutation out into the wild.
Another document recently leaked by Never Again shows that Oxitec expects four employees on the public payroll to report to Derric Nimmo for the duration of the Key Haven test, if it is permitted to take place. The British company has also recently begun a door-to-door canvassing and robocall campaign in an attempt to sway the outcome of the upcoming November referendum on the subject.