As you’ve probably already heard, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently made an announcement declaring the Zika virus to be a global health emergency. They did so without providing much detail about the disease, however, so here is some more information and answers to questions many people are asking, such as: Where did it come from? And do the millions of genetically modified mosquitoes that have been released in these areas have anything to do with it?
As PBS points out:
Zika is a flavivirus, which is pronounced a bit a like flavor. Flay-v-virus. Most viruses in this family are carried by arthropods — mosquitoes and ticks. We’ve known about Zika virus since at least 1947, when researchers from the Rockefeller Foundation put a rhesus monkey in a cage in the middle of Zika Forest of Uganda. The team was conducting surveillance for yellow fever. But “Rhesus 766” would ultimately become the first known carrier of Zika virus. (It remains unconfirmed if monkeys or other animals are consistent carriers — or reservoirs — for the disease).
The virus is also marketed by two companies, LGC Standards (headquartered in the UK) and ATCC (headquartered in the US).
Where Do Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Fit Into The Picture?
A recent article published by The Antimedia first brought to the world’s attention the fact that millions of of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes had been released in Brazil. This is where Oxitec first unveiled its large-scale, genetically modified mosquito farm in July 2012 with the goal of reducing the incidence of dengue fever.
Oxitec has already released a large number of GM olive flies that were used to kill off wild pests that damage crops. In the Cayman Islands, 3 million GM mosquitoes were released, and in this case over 90 percent of the original natural native mosquito population was suppressed. The same results were also seen in Brazil. (source)
On the other side of the coin, genetically modified mosquitoes are now being proposed as a solution to stop the spread of such viruses. Livescience recently published an article alluding to that, as did The Globe and Mail, while other media sources, such as RT news, are reporting that these GM mosquitoes could be linked to the virus.