A biotech company called Oxitec, which received money from a foundation established by Bill Gates, is now moving to release a multitude of genetically-altered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, futurism.com reports.
The apparent goal of this enterprise is to try and reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti , a mosquito that can spread diseases like dengue fever and malaria, by introducing an altered version of this insect that doesn't bite and can only hatch male offspring.
According to the media outlet, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged about $4.1 million to Oxitec back in 2018 to "develop a new mosquito that would target malaria in the Americas, South Asia, and eastern Africa," with the foundation also previously providing some $19.7 "for a project in which Oxitec took part".
The mosquitoes' release initiative is reportedly being opposed by a significant number of the locals and by "outside activists and experts", with critics pointing at possible scientific flaws in the plan and citing an alleged lack of safety testing.
Noting the apparent lack of "independently-vetted evidence" that the mosquitoes scheme will indeed help reduce disease transmission in the region and won't give rise to new problems, the media outlet also points out that some locals feel like this experiment is essentially being forced upon them.
"I find this criminal, that we are being bullied into this experiment," one resident said during a recent town council meeting. "I find it criminal that we are being subjected to this terrorism by our own Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board."