A Conspiracy Theory Links The Gates Foundation To The Spread Of Zika Virus. Don’t Believe It.

This story was originally published by FactCheck.org.

Q: Did genetically modified mosquitoes cause the Zika outbreak?

A: No. In fact, GM mosquitoes may be able to help control the virus’ spread.


Any truth to Zika virus linked to genetically modified mosquitoes released through the Gates Foundation?


The rumor that GM mosquitoes could be behind the Zika outbreak in Brazil began on Jan. 25 with a Reddit thread titled: “Genetically modified mosquitoes released in Brazil in 2015 linked to the current Zika epidemic?” Some media outlets, including Fox News, The Ecologist and The Daily Mail went on to spread the rumor. Some websites, such as Natural News, cited the involvement of Bill Gates. (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $19.7 million for a project to develop and test GM mosquitoes, according to Science.)

The initial Reddit post was a reaction to the Zika virus’ spread through the Americas, including Brazil, and a rise in suspected cases of microcephaly, which can signify abnormal brain development. The Zika virus likely spread to Brazil around August 2014, as reported by the New York Times. As of Feb. 5 this year, the World Health Organization reported that Brazilian authorities estimate between 497,593 and 1,482,701 cases of Zika infection have occurred since the outbreak began. Zika is primarily spread by the Aedes mosquito.

The Aedes mosquito also spreads the dengue and chikungunya viruses. To reduce Aedes mosquito populations and combat these widespread viruses, a British biotech company called Oxitec genetically engineered male Aedesmosquitoes to produce offspring that die before they reach adulthood. This technique has been shown to reduce mosquito populations by 95 percent in some areas where Oxitec released the GM mosquitoes. And fewer mosquitoes mean less disease transmission.

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