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According to Hawaii Unites, an environmental advocacy group that recently lost its case, 775,992,000 bacteria-infected mosquitoes could be released in Maui every week for the next two decades.
The group had filed a lawsuit in May 2023 against the state, demanding an environmental impact statement before proceeding with the contentious project.
Tina Lia, the president and founder of Hawaii Unites, shared this information with The Defender.
“These biopesticide lab-altered mosquitoes are already being released in East Maui. Hawaii Unites has taken the state to court seeking a ruling to require an environmental impact statement for the project and comprehensive studies of the risks.”
“The final environmental assessment for this project is insufficient under the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act,” Lia said. “[It] fails to describe mitigation measures or biosecurity protocols for the mosquitoes, and the discussion of alternatives is inadequate.”
Lia states that the Birds, Not Mosquitoes alliance has put forth a strategy to control the spread of avian malaria among native birds by targeting southern house mosquitoes.
Their approach involves preventing male mosquitoes, who harbor the Wolbachia bacterium responsible for transmitting avian malaria, from reproducing.
The technique known as Wolbachia incompatible insect technology (IIT) was previously supported by Gates Philanthropy Partners, a division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
However, there is no clear connection between these organizations and the current ongoing project in Hawaii.
An expert representing Hawaii Unites cautioned that instead of reducing mosquito-borne diseases, the project might result in bacterial proliferation, the unintended spread of genetically modified mosquitoes to undesired locations, and other environmental repercussions.
But the court disagreed, ruling that the final environmental assessment “was compiled in good faith and set forth sufficient information to enable the [Board of Land and Natural Resources] to consider fully the environmental factors involved and to make a reasoned decision after balancing the risks of harm to the environment against the benefits to be derived from the proposed action.”
According to the lawsuit, “documentation and studies from several sources, including government agencies, confirm that the experiment may not even work for its intended purpose and has the potential for significant environmental impacts.”
The lawsuit also noted that the IIT method has never been tried in…