A plan to release over 750 million genetically-modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys in 2021 and 2022 has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and various Florida regulatory authorities. Predictably, activists who reject science are attacking this decision.
Basically, the genetically-modified mosquitos will help combat the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries several dangerous diseases like the Zika virus and Dengue fever, passing it to humans.
I have written several articles about these GMO mosquitoes, which some have called the “Frankensquito,” a complete misuse of both the genetic modification of the mosquito and a misunderstanding of the Frankenstein myth. It’s just a scare tactic.
Let’s take a look at the real science behind these genetically-modified mosquitos, and why it will save humans.
DDT facts and myths have been part of our shared environmental consciousness for two generations. Most of our beliefs about DDT, a powerful insecticide long-banned by most countries, came from Rachel Carson’s best selling book,Silent Spring, published over 50 years ago.
Carson was an aquatic biologist, working for the US Department of Fisheries, who became a champion of the environmental movement across the world. Her influence on environmental policy is still felt today. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that her movement lead to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970.
Silent Spring was an influential book that drove pro-environmental policies and thinking of many of us who grew up in that era. Essentially, the book outlined the environmental disaster caused by the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides, especially on agricultural lands. She seemed to advocate for a complete ban on DDT and other pesticides based on some anecdotal and statistical correlation between DDT use and certain environmental issues.
But it was too late. The DDT myth (or facts, depending on the evidence) had started, and it was imprinted into the American consciousness. In 1972, DDT was banned for use in agriculture in the USA, which has lasted until today. It’s ironic that the Reagan administration, a notoriously anti-environmental group, refused to reconsider the ban on DDT.
Predictably, the chemical industry lashed out against the Ms. Carson and her book. But given the nature of the times, they really had no shot, and the environmental movement was born.
However, what do we make of the strength or weaknesses of DDT facts? Is it a myth? Or were some of Ms. Carson’s points valid? I think after 50 years we can answer some of that, but DDT has evolved into a word that induces fear and loathing in most people across the world. Let’s take a look at it. Continue reading “The DDT facts – examining the evidence after 50 years”