Oxitec’s PR Machine Strikes Again with a Door-to-Door Campaign Built on Lies.

A slick brochure being handed out by Oxitec canvassers in Key West which pretends to be from a nonprofit citizen’s group is nothing more than company propaganda full of outright lies and misleading information. The complete document obtained by Never Again goes out of its way to spin the three most common lies about the Oxitec GMO mosquito.

Lie #1: Only Males Are Released

Oxitec’s male mosquitoes cannot bite and cannot transmit disease… They have one job: seek out and mate with females, which bite and carry the disease. The males pass a gene to their offspring, which causes them to die before reaching adulthood, thereby reducing the total population of Aedes aegypti.

— Florida Keys Safety Alliance Brochure [emphasis ours]

The professional marketing materials, produced with a $50,000 “donation” from Oxitec parent company Intrexon, only mention male mosquitoes and tell us they can’t bite. But the official report the company submitted to the FDA says otherwise. It estimates that 62 biting females will be released per person in Key Have if the test is allowed to go through.

… [T]he estimate for the number of females that would be released (under the same assumptions and 1 female for every 500 GE mosquitoes released) is less than 62 female mosquitoes released per person in the TA [test area] over a total of 104 weeks…

— Oxitec FDA Environmental Assessment (page 39) [emphasis ours]

Oxitec must downplay the release of biting females because of the risks they pose to human beings and to the environment through “leaky” artificial DNA. No testing has been done on the effects of these mosquitoes and their offspring biting human beings.

Lie #2: The FDA Approved the Mosquitoes

The brochure goes on to imply that the FDA has exercised some oversight over the mosquitoes, perhaps even conducting testing at the agency. It uses the phrase “finding of no significant impact” fives times to show us how important this is to the company. But in reality, all the FDA examined was the test proposal submitted by Oxitec! No outside scientists have been allowed to test the GMO mosquitoes. No one from the FDA has tested them. And there is no FDA oversight on the proposed test.

Lie #3: It’s Already “Successful”

Like all Oxitec PR materials, this one emphasizes the “successful” results of tests in Brazil and Grand Cayman. What the brochure doesn’t point out are the countries which have rejected the GMO mosquito after testing, the kooky test methodologies and numerous changes to the Grand Cayman test protocols that were needed to show any results at all, or the fact that the stunning results in Brazil are from GMO mosquitoes combined with pesticide sprays. The same study Oxitec quotes in the brochure showed only a fractional improvement in GMO mosquitoes over sprays alone. Perhaps the worst part of the Oxitec “solution” is that may have to continue forever. Oxitec has not published any studies about what happens after the expensive product is discontinued.

Your Vote Counts in November

Even though GMO mosquito proponents  like to point out that the November 8th referendum is “non-binding,” your voice is important. It would be a grievous miscarriage of democracy for the Mosquito Control District to proceed with such a test against the will of the people.

What happens here will set the standard for how genetically modified animals are tested and used throughout the United States. Because our health and safety standards are (supposed to be) higher than many other countries, other nations will look to us, too, for guidance on how to best protect human health and our environment with regard to these artificially engineered animals.

There are safer options, such as Wolbachia, and the best mosquito prevention will always be emptying standing water containers wherever you find them, after it rains.

Be sure to register to vote and VOTE NO ON GMO MOSQUITOES on the November 8th ballot.

 

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