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What Are The Main Concerns About GE Insects?

Center for Food Safety

Insects provide a main source of food for many ecosystems.  Altering their populations can put many species at risk that rely on them for food, throwing a kink in the delicate food web and altering the balance of life, which can lead to unprecedented environmental complications. For example, the extinction of one species may create an opportunity for another, more dangerous pest.  Furthermore, few studies, if any, have been done about unintended evolutionary effects of introducing new genes into a species at large.

A recent report[1] from Friends of the Earth highlighted the fact that “[c]ommunity-based programs that educate communities about dengue prevention and low-cost ways to prevent mosquitoes from breeding are one way disease rates can be brought down…For example, a 2005 study in Vietnam found that targeted biological control and community involvement was successful in eliminating Aedes aegypti in 32 of the 37 communities studied and as a result, no dengue cases have been reported since 2002.  As the World Health Organization has stated, ‘community is the key to dengue prevention’…[S]olutions can be low-cost, low-risk social innovations rather than expensive, patented technologies.”

Finally, GE insects are a misguided solution to a problem that technology has created: industrial agriculture and monocropping.  The whittling down of the agricultural gene pool has left many crop species, especially when grown over thousands of acres, susceptible to pest and disease by decreasing biodiversity.  GE insects therefore perpetuate a broken paradigm and fail to address the critical issue at hand: the fragility of our industrial food system.

 

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[1] Hoffman, Eric. Genetically engineered mosquitoes in the U.S. Friends of the Earth (2012) Available online at http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/df/1/959/5/Issue_brief_GE_mosquitoes_in_U.S.pdf

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