POSTED: Saturday, August 18, 2012 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 12:35pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — There's talk of releasing 'genetically modified' mosquitoes in south Florida to fight mosquito-borne illnesses.
An English company created the mosquitos in order to find a way to control the populations without the use of insecticide.
"We have created mosquitoes that carry a special gene in their DNA," said Derric Nimmo of Oxitec.
The process is to have the genetically modified male mosquito released with a sole mission to mate.
"When those females mate with our Oxitec mosquitoes, their offspring inherit that gene and do not survive," said Nimmo.
Dr. Peter Stiling contracted Dengue fever from a mosquito bite as a young man and now he's the chair of the biology department at USF.
"So there's a great opportunity for the population to be reduced and where this is being tried in the Cayman Islands, there's an 80% reduction of mosquito population, which is quite something," said Dr. Stiling, biologist.
Now this whole idea of 'messing with nature', of 'playing God', has raised eye brows, and in Key West, Florida, 100,000 signatures have been collected petitioning against the release of these genetically modified mosquitoes.
Officials won't release the genetically-altered mosquitoes until federal permits are issued.
It's currently under review by the FDA.