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GMO mosquito company being investigated over alleged violations of U.S. securities laws


(NaturalNews) According to a report by GM Watch, GMO mosquito firm Oxitec is being investigated – and share prices have dropped dramatically. Oxitec is owned by a big biotech firm called Intrexon, which has been accused of misleading investors and potentially violating U.S. securities law.

Intrexon shares had previously seen an increase of almost 100 percent over the previous three months, due to a lot of unfounded hype around the supposed ability of Oxitec's GM mosquitoes to combat the Zika virus. But according to a study by Spotlight Research, and reported by GM Watch, Oxitec's GM mosquito technology "won't work, is way too expensive, and is many years from generating even minuscule revenue from Zika virus despite adding $2 billion of market cap due to the hype."

What is the Zika virus?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus is spread primarily via mosquitoes, with those bitten suffering from fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Most people experience mild symptoms and do not need to visit a hospital – and some never even realize they've actually been infected.

However, if you are infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you could suffer very serious side effects. In pregnant women, the Zika virus can cause several birth defects that affect the brain of the fetus, including a defect called microcephaly. Outbreaks of the Zika virus are mostly reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, however, in May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert when the infection reached Brazil, and on 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It is suspected that the virus will continue to spread to new areas.

The investigation into GM mosquitoes

The investigation has been welcomed by numerous environmental health groups, after concerns were raised about the GM mosquitoes back in 2014. Oxitec's website says of the company, "Oxitec is a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops. Through world class science we have developed an innovative new solution to controlling harmful insects pests [sic]."

Critics of the company are concerned about the lack of risk assessment undertaken by Oxitec ahead of making plans to release the GM mosquitoes, and there are concerns that GM mosquitoes pose a huge risk to the environment and the health of local populations.

The report by Spotlight Research states that Intrexon's long-time COO has recently left the company in advance of the planned release, and the company is thought to have overstated revenues by 50 percent. According to GM Watch, Intrexon's biofuel interests will likely fail, and the company is said to have effectively commercialized zero meaningful products using its own technology, in the 17 years since its inception.

Oxitec's freaky insects

This isn't the first GM insect that Oxitec has tried to release into the environment; in 2013, the company was forced to withdraw plans to release GM olive and fruit flies in Spain, in the wake of human and environmental health questions from government regulators.

The plan was to release large numbers of GM olive flies to mate with wild ones, with the female offspring of the GM flies being genetically engineered to die at the maggot stage. This would have meant that, after the female laid her eggs inside the olives, the maggots would die while still inside the olives – and that would have had a huge impact on the food chain. The plan generated human and animal health concerns around the potential consumption of olives containing dead GM maggots.

Then, in 2015, Oxitec released GM moths in New York, sparking outrage among citizens, organic farmers and environmental groups. According to Canada's Global Research, the diamondback moth is an agricultural nuisance, damaging thousands of acres of crops and costing farmers more than $1 billion annually.

Oxitec released GM moths without paying any attention to public concern, setting a precedent for working with the FDA to ignore public opinion and push ahead with their planned outdoor experiments. The latest investigation into the company's GM mosquitoes shows that the company definitely lacks in-depth research and risk assessment around the potential impacts of these GM insects.

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