The latest contagious viral outbreak freaking out the globe, particularly women worried about birth defects, may have been caused by the presence of genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMMs) in Brazil, contend critics of the superbugs.
With international health experts convening in Geneva to discuss possible cures for the Zika virus, questions are being raised as to whether they are actually to blame.
In mid-2012, British biotech company Oxitec released the super bugs with the aim of reducing the overall mosquito population that spreads dengue fever, the Zika virus, and chikungunya in northeast Brazil.
At the time, concerns were raised about the release of GMMs without further studies into possible side effects.
"It's a very experimental approach which has not yet been successful and may cause more harm than good," Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch, told the Guardian in 2012.
The first cases of Zika in the Americas were reported last May after spending decades working its way from Africa through Asia.
Up to 1.5 million people now thought affected by the virus, which Oxitec’s critics note is the same country where the GMMs were released - Brazil.
Since the outbreak, there have been over 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly in Brazil, although various others causes can also be attributed to the rise.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito sub-species that carries both the Zika virus and dengue is the very type Oxitec targeted with its GMMs.
There is already a known survival rate of up to five percent in these GMMs regardless of the presence of tetracycline.
This antibiotic, which is often used to treat teenage acne, can be found in nature too, showing up in soil, surface water, and food, with some research stating that the GMM survival rate could potentially increase to 15 percent.
Calls for further studies into GMMs prior to their release by Oxitec to answer such questions went unanswered, however.
While this Jurassic Park-type scenario could have been accidental, the recent UK TV series "Utopia" suggests it could be a deliberate plan to reduce the global population.
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