Oxitec GM Mosquitos Linked To Zika Outbreak 

Back in September 2010, a scientific report voiced concerns about the 3-4 % that would survive. The scientists wanted to do further investigations before releasing GM mosquitoes.

The report warned that transgenes (transferred genes) can lead to changes that are unintended, unpredictable and unrelated to the nature of the gene inserted.

In July 2012, praised British company Oxitec introduced its genetically-modified mosquito farm. Reportedly, the goal was to decrease the incidence of dengue fever.

In July 2015, shortly after releasing the 18 million GM mosquitoes into the wild in Brazil, Oxitec announced their success in controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes without much data on the impact to the ecosystem.  Please note this is the same area of the recent outbreak of Zika infection.

Oxitec GM insects (designated OX513A),  were genetically altered male Aedes aegypti that mated with non-modified female Aedes mosquitoes in the wild.


Oxitec GM Mosquitos At The Epicenter Zika Outbreak.

Brazil started deploying GM mosquitoes to reduce the natural Aedes mosquito population that transmit dengue fever.

The production of offsprings triggered transcription in the modified part to kill the larvae before breeding age, provided no tetracycline (antibiotics) exposure during development.

Brazil is third in the World for using tetracycline with farmed animals. This is not well absorbed and over 75% is excreted into the soil. GM mosquitos looking for food can ingest this tetracycline as part of their blood meal. Even small amounts will suppress the modified development, allowing the altered mosquitoes to survive.

Tetracycline represses the GM-designed development. Small amounts of tetracycline can result in a survival rate as high as 15%.

It turned out that cat food was used to feed the larvae in at least one lab. This cat food contained factory-farmed chicken which also contains tetracycline. This was discovered when a disparity was noted in survival rate testing results, with one lab testing at 15% survival rate (the one with cat food fed larvae) and another testing in at just 3%.

Scientist Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher voiced concern regarding the release of GM mosquitoes without field cage studies.  She raised many questions, that required answers, to reduce the risk to mankind and other animals.

Earlier this year, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany examined information regarding the release of modified insects into the environment in Malaysia and Grand Cayman, which were carried out by Oxitec. The scientists’ findings suggest that there are “deficits in the scientific quality of regulatory documents and a general absence of accurate experimental descriptions available before releases start”. (3)

The Zika outbreak in Brazil followed Oxitec’s release of GM mosquitos.  The release location is the epicenter of the outbreak where a surge in babies with microcephaly was noted.

Recall GM mosquitoes act to produce abnormal offsprings in the natural Aedes mosquitoes, so they die before breeding.  Interesting  the Zika virus in pregnant women causes abnormal human offspring with reduced life expectancy.

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Questions For Oxitec  Before Release Of More GM Mosquitos

Here are questions that should be considered and answered before Oxitec is allowed to release more GM mosquitoes into the wild.  Most of the following questions were asked by Dr Steinbrecher in a letter to the National Biosafety Board (NBB.  World Health Organization scheduled an emergency meeting about Zika on Monday, February 1, 2016.

Let’s make sure Oxitec does not release more GM mosquitos before responding to the following questions and other questions that link GM mosquitos to the recent Zika  virus outbreak in Brazil.

When released into the wild:

  • Will the bite of the female LMO mosquito change?
  • How is the life cycle of the male mosquitos changed after genetic modification?
  • Will the reaction of humans or animals to the mosquito bite change?
  • Are there different immune reactions due to compositional changes in the saliva of the mosquito?
  • Will the pathogen vector interaction change in female mosquitoes?
  • Did the level of dengue virus present in the saliva change?
  • Did the affinity to dengue virus change?
  • Are there new interactions with other viruses?
  • Do different environments result in different altered phenotypic and behavioral characteristics?
  • Do different condition, biotic and abiotic stresses result in different survival rates?
  • What is the emergency response should GM mosquitos  harm humans or other animals?


Referenced links:

  1.  Zika Outbreak Epicenter in Same Area Where GM Mosquitoes Were Released in 2015:



2.  Release of GM mosquito Aedes aegypti OX513A (NRE(S)609-2/1/3) | EcoNexus



3.  Can GM mosquitoes rid the world of a major killer? | Environment | The Guardian





Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

15 thoughts on “Oxitec GM Mosquitos Linked To Zika Outbreak 

  1. There are scientists who believe that they are already clever enough to fool nature. There are many (if not > 90%) lazy humans who believe that scientists (and other gurus who claim to know about life) exist to relieve them from the responsibility to take care of themselves, e.g. swallow what the doc tells you to swallow, eat what the food shaman tells you to eat, do what your mom tells you to do, pray to the deity your priest tells you to pray to, kill what the general tells you to kill, throw stones when your activist foreman tells you to throw stones, and, within this context, certainly do not fight mosquitoes by making it a habit to regularly inspecting the space inside/outside your living area for standing water and removing those breeding heavens at sight.

    Maybe genetically modifying humans is the answer to human stupidity, laziness, and greed?

      1. Oh no, it’s in their DNA (well….um…….that what a couple of wisecrackers called it), they were born that way, they were created that way. Remember those two fools in the Garden? That’s how it began.

        But……..there’s also that breed called The Other people, not plagued by all that shit.

        1. …maniacal laughter can be heard emanating from the depths of the garden… One look at Trump and I know we were not “created in his image”, he must be one of The Other People. How about them skeeters, where you live they were all but wiped out by 1979, that’s what the wisecrackers claimed anyway. They went around in a green Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser and courageously sprayed all those Car tires in your neighbor’s yards. Funny thing that I never noticed the absence of Sanguras, but maybe they specifically targeted the ones that carried Yellow Fever and somehow managed to spare the others. I can still taste the Malathion.

          1. Ah yes, them sanguras. I can only love them mean bastards. As do the fish in my ponds.

            Trumpy Boy one of The Other People? Loco bo ta? 😀 Lmfao! No Presbyterian (not even a fake one) could be one of us, bro. He’s all yours, dude. Deal with it, man.

  2. Roald’s sarcasm is actually very precise. And indeed around 90% of adults could be described as “sheep”, with 5% being the sheepdogs and another 5% being the foxes.

    Genetically-modified humans! Now there is a good idea. 🙂

  3. Today I used the Q&A function of WHO for the following question:

    Oxitec claims its GMO-Product OX513A ‘Friendly Aedes Aegypti’ to be ‘environmentally sustainable’ and is recommending further distribution. But other scientists are warning that this confounds cause and effect and could mean a heavy jump from the frying pan Dengue into the fire Zika. Longer surviving modified vectors (Tetracycline based) may have already shifted their virus preference. Does WHO provide any research in that direction?

    1. Good question, I don’t think WHO is looking into GM mosquitos as a possible cause of Zika and microcephaly. Hopefully, they will recognize the presence of Zika outbreak in areas where GM mosquitos were released is evidence that GM mosquitos do not decrease disease burden of Aedes mosquitos.

  4. Oxitec released millions of GE Aedes aegypti in Brazil 2012-14 despite concerns from scientific groups, including GeneWatch UK, Testbiotech, Berne Declaration, SwissAid, and the Corporate Europe Observatory. A modest fail rate of around 3% was predicted and a higher fail rate of around 10-15% predicted in areas where livestock was treated with tetracycline. It is important to note that Brazil is one of the worlds largest cattle producers where tetracycline is widely used to treat cattle.

    GeneWatch’s detailed report here: bit.ly/1THh3U7uhhu

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