Who isn’t a little freaked out about Zika—the mosquito-transmitted infection common in Africa and Asia and now showing up in South America? The disease is horrifying; preying on the most vulnerable humans—fetuses still growing in their mother’s wombs. Sadly, mothers who become infected with Zika are giving birth to children with deformities and brain damage. Zika is expected to reach certain areas of the United States this spring. To date, there have been 31 reported cases of Zika in the U.S; each case involving tourists who contradicted the illness outside the United States, before returning home.
While I’m not suggesting you should freak out about Zika, you should take precautions if you’re pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the near future (read this excellent essay for tips). Yet, what’s most frustrating and worthy of a freak out is that anti-GMO activists are urging governments to dismiss a potentially life-saving solution—genetically modified mosquitos.
Business Insider provides a detailed explanation of how a company called Oxitec developed a sterile version of the Aedes aegypti—the type of mosquito that carries Zika–through genetic modification and introduced it to Brazil, which has been hit hard by Zika. When the Oxitec mosquito mates with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, it results in no offspring, leading to a diminished mosquito population.
Not to the Debbie Downer, conspiracy theory-loving, anti-GMO Luddites who began spreading rumors that the GMO mosquito is actually contributing to the Zika problem. The Drudge Report even carried a headline this week suggesting the GMO technology is somehow responsible for the outbreak. The link on Drudge Report leads to a Daily Mirror (you know, were one goes to see topless photos of movies stars and check in on the Madonna-Guy Richie custody battle) article that simply reports on the rumor and offers zero evidence that there’s actually any sort of connection between the GMO mosquito and the outbreak.
So now, instead of seeking a solution and a path forward to eradicate this disease, we have governments in South America whose entire policy strategy for Zika is to tell women “don’t get pregnant” for two years. And let’s not forget that in many of these South American countries, birth control isn’t exactly easy to come by.
Zika will flourish if governments don’t work to develop the technologies to destroy this disease. A vaccination is years away and in that time, mothers are frightened and their unborn babies are at risk. We have GMO technology at our disposal that can help reduce the very vectors that carry this disease.
So, go ahead and freak out a little this Friday. Just make sure you’re freaking out about the right thing—the lunatic anti-GMO activists responsible for bringing Zika to a neighborhood near you.
#FreakoutFriday is a proud collaboration between The American Spectator and the Independent Womens’ Forum.