The Zika Insanity Continues: GMO Mosquitos Approved
The Zika Insanity Continues: GMO Mosquitos ApprovedComing soon to a hot summer night near you: genetically modified mosquitos.
That's right. Not only has the panic over the Zika virus kicked the vaccine machine into high gear, it's created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for creators of genetically modified animals. Bio-firm Oxitec now wants to release GMO mosquitoes into the southern United States. And they're well on their way to getting FDA approval to do so.
Of course they tell us it's for our own good. It's the most effective weapon, they say, in the "fight against Zika." But is Zika really such a threat the we need to resort to using Frankenstein's lab? And what might the consequences be if we do?
The answer to these questions are a resounding "no" followed by "we have no idea." But of course that won't stop it from happening. Lots of money stands to be made from Zika. And money, as we well know, trumps any environmental or health concerns. But there's even more to it than that.
We don't want them — but the Big Guys don't care
The past year has been a mixed bag for those of us against GMOs. While efforts to prevent labeling failed at a federal level, efforts to pass laws at a state level are facing some serious pushback from an industry with very deep pockets and political connections.
The FDA stabbed us all in the back by approving genetically modified salmon. (Salmon created, incidentally, by a sister company of Oxitec.) They then twisted the knife by allowing it to be sold without any kind of labeling.
Though they later backtracked and banned imports of these frankenfish until they can come up with labeling rules, that doesn't put many minds at ease. There are a billion ways around a plain and simple "GMO" label. Like using QR codes you have to scan with your phone or *fine print that no one bothers to read. I'm quite sure a deal will be struck and we'll never see real labeling.
Meanwhile, after Chipotle restaurants declared themselves GMO free, they were plagued by mysterious outbreaks of food poisoning for months. They're still wrestling with the aftermath.
What does all this have to do with GMO mosquitos? GMOs have been in the headlines for months for one reason or another, and it's clear that We the People don't want any part of them. And call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the current GMO mosquito campaign is just one more propaganda effort on the part of GMO companies to get us to accept their unnatural creations.
How to get rich: create a "problem" your product fixes, then charge millions for the "solution"
What's the best way to sell a product? Convince your mark that they have a problem your product will solve. Then sell them the solution to the problem they didn't know they had. It's standard operating procedure for salesmen. It's sales 101. Even the lowliest telemarketer can tell you this rule.
This is what's happening with Zika. We've been presented with the problem — Zika virus, which has been around forever without causing any real harm, is suddenly a huge public health threat. The media has pushed all our fear buttons so we're ready to accept anything. And now Big Pharma and the biotech sector get to be the white knights who ride in and save the day with vaccines and genetically engineered bugs. Then when the Zika "crisis" is over, they'll use the "success" of these GMO bugs to push us to accept the next GMO creature.
We're being sold a bill of goods, and I'm not buying. The fact remains that no matter how the news outlets spin it, there's still no compelling evidence that Zika causes birth defects. Or anything else other than some mild discomfort in a few cases. This little tidbit gets buried in the middle of every article, bracketed by a lot of speculation presented as fact. Unfortunately, the majority of people miss this part. The part where they say "although it's still not clear if Zika actually causes birth defects or if other factors are at work, scientists think…"
This is how the fear machine works. Florida has even declared a state of emergency — even though the handful of Zika cases there were contracted by travelers to South American countries. Big Pharma and the biotech world are absolutely salivating at the money to be made from our fear. Vaccines are in the works, with the promise that one may be available as early as next year. And GMO mosquitos are on the way.
What happens when a genetically modified species takes over?
Here's how the GM bugs are supposed to help: The males are programmed to produce offspring that never make it past the larval stage. Now, tetracycline — a common animal antibiotic — stops this from happening for some reason. If the bugs are exposed to tetracycline (say through breeding in an area with a lot of animal waste full of the antibiotic) then all bets are off. They reproduce normally. And even without tetracycline, some 3%-4% will still survive and thrive.
Leaving aside the question of what happens when you wipe out an entire species — which is a pretty huge question itself — how do we know what happens if these survivors grow up and mate? What kind of genes do they pass on? What else might this modification change, and what happens when they bite people?
These are questions that biotech hasn't even asked, much less answered satisfactorily. And they're not going to. Financial analysts estimate that using GMO mosquitos to "fight Zika" could net Intrexon, the parent company of Oxitec, a whopping $200 million to $400 million per year, and they're not going to do anything to jeopardize that.
Now here's the really sneaky thing: The media is reporting on GMO mosquitos like they're already a done deal. They're not. They've been set free in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, and Panama, but before they can be turned loose in the U.S. they have to be approved by the FDA.
So it's time to put your money where your mouth is. We don't know what kind of effect this might have on the ecosystem. We don't know what kind of effect it might have on human health. We do know that it's the first step down a slippery slope, and that if we allow GMO animals in this instance, it'll be much harder to fight the next one they want to introduce. We need to take a stand and say "no" to GMOs — and here's how to do it:
- The FDA has opened public comments on the issue, and is accepting comments till April 14th. Visit the regulations.gov site and make your position clear.
- Sign the change.org petition protesting GMO mosquitos.
- Educate those around you about the real facts about Zika, and the unknowns involved in GMO bugs.
And last but not least, urge your friends and family to be active too. One person alone can't make a difference. Thousands of us speaking with the same voice might.
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