Plan to Release GMO Mosquitoes in California Draws Fire From California Lawmakers, Environmentalists

“People have not consented to being part of this open-air biopesticide experiment,” said the co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform.

“It is our understanding that while the U.S. EPA did approve the GE mosquitoes to be released in California, the agency did not conduct a thorough scientific review of the impacts of this insect on public health or the environment. California must require more and better information prior to any approval.”

The lawmakers suggested the DPR conduct a public review of data from Florida regarding the state’s experimental release of GE mosquitoes, hold public meetings where community members can express concerns and hear from independent experts, and establish an independent scientific advisory panel to review Oxitec’s proposal.

“Before we permit the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation should provide for clear rules and a review of public health and environmental risks of releasing the insects in a public process,” said Assembly member Laura Friedman, who represents Glendale.

“There are too many unknown factors when it comes to how it could affect our biodiversity in the long run, including how this might influence populations of birds, bats, fish species and other insects.”

Rebecca Spector, West Coast director at the Center for Food Safety, applauded the legislators for “taking action to protect public health and the environment from the unknown impacts of GE mosquitoes.”

“They rightfully are asking DPR to conduct a more comprehensive review and public meetings for residents that will be impacted, before approving this permit,” said Spector.

Angel Garcia, a Tulare County resident who is co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform, called the push to conduct the experiment “an environmental justice issue.”

“Tulare County residents are already impacted by some of the worst pollution problems, and climate change has already exacerbated environmental destruction, economic and social inequity,” said Garcia. “People have not consented to being part of this open-air biopesticide experiment.”

Originally published by Common Dreams.

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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