Fork the System Podcast Episode 003
GMO Mosquitoes: The Deception Drinking Game
Published September 5, 2022
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This episode of Fork the System begins part 1 of 2 on the issue of GMO mosquitoes. How did a foreign corporation get federal, state, and local approvals for a risky, unnecessary experimental technology that no one really wants? This is a story about corporate, political and regulatory corruption, malfeasance, and dereliction of duty.
About our guests:
Barry W. Wray
Barry is the Executive Director of the FL Keys Environmental Coalition (FKEC.org), holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from UMass Amherst and has applied his experience to studying the Oxitec approach and alternative abatement technologies. Mr. Wray has designed sustainable solutions and for security, water quality and environmental applications over the past 10 years of his career and has over 30 years of notable engineering accomplishments with companies like GE and Ericsson.
Edward R. Russo
Ed is an environmental expert, author, entrepreneur, and serves on several voluntary and government boards. He serves as CEO of RussKap Holdings LLC, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of atmospheric water generating machines, Member of the State of Florida’s Board of Pilot Commissioners, President of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, Member of the Board of Directors of Reef Relief, Member of the Monroe County Climate Change Advisory Committee, Former Member and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Florida Keys Community College Foundation, and Member of the Planning Board of the City of Key West. He has also excelled in the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of industrial water re-use, reclamation, and recycling equipment and facilities.
FTS003 GMO Mosquitoes Part 1: The Deception Drinking Game[00:00:00] Welcome to Fork the System, the podcast of GMO and Toxin Free USA. Join us for insightful conversations about the systemic problems that prevent us from having the world that we all want to see, with a clean food system, healthy environment, fair markets, and good government. Our guests will include individuals who think outside the box and aren’t afraid to rock the boat, who inspire change. Subscribe to GMO and Toxin Free USA’s YouTube channel so you don’t miss an episode. You can also listen to Fork the System anywhere podcasts are available. [00:00:31] Luan Van Le: This episode of Fork the System begins a series on the issue of GMO mosquitoes. How did a foreign corporation get federal, state, and local approvals for a risky, unnecessary experimental technology that no one really wants? This is a story about corporate, political and regulatory corruption, malfeasance, and dereliction of duty. This is Luan Van Le, communications director of GMO and Toxin Free USA hosting today’s Fork the System podcast. Joining us to shine a light on this issue are Barry Wray, an engineer and executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, and Ed Russo, environmental expert, entrepreneur, and president of the Florida Keys Environmental coalition. Welcome Barry and Ed. [00:01:16] Barry Wray: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. [00:01:19] Ed Russo: Hi everybody. Sounds like fun. [00:01:21] Barry Wray: I thought he was on permanent vacation actually. [00:01:24] Luan Van Le: Okay guys, we have a lot of ground to cover. The fight against the release of GMO mosquitoes in Florida has been going on for 12 years. Why did Oxitec, the company that makes these GMO mosquitoes, come to America in the first place? And what benefits do they claim we’ll get from these GMO mosquitoes? [00:01:44] Ed Russo: Barry, may I start, please? [00:01:46] Barry Wray: You can have fun. [00:01:48] Ed Russo: The question was interestingly asked. I just want you to know this should be like a drinking game. Every time we point out another deception of Oxitec and Mosquito Control Board, everybody has to take a drink. Of course, I’ll be drinking beet juice, but that’s just me. So the question is why did they come here? Because they can’t do it in the United Kingdom or the EU. That’s the most interesting part of this. They come to Key West because Key West and the Florida Keys, we’re kind of, we would say laid back a little bit, and we, I think we have a government, but we’re not really sure. And so we were prime real estate for them. So they came here because they couldn’t do it there. This whole genetically modified stuff, releasing mosquitoes that bite people. Oh my God. But they got away with it. And they got away with it because I think we’re a bit docile. But the whole purpose of it is that they are making an enormous amount of money by figuring out a way of changing the genetic makeup of these Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which somehow will kill all the other Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Of course, that’s their idea of going forward with this, but I’ll let Barry give you the technical aspects of this. [00:02:50] Barry Wray: Okay, this is Nerds-R-Us time. So here’s how it works. All right. They basically do a genetic modification. They quote, “release only males.” That’s what we always hear. We’ve never been able to prove that. In fact, we’ve proven the opposite. And those males go out and mate with wild females and supposedly none of the offspring is supposed to survive and everything collapses. That’s the idea. But what Ed said about obfuscation and deception is what we live with. Oxitec controls this information and prevents us from actually seeing the science behind what their claims are. [00:03:29] Ed Russo: And big difference between a fairy tale and a con job. And that’s one of the things that’s very interesting about this. A con job, if you look it up in Webster’s dictionary, means persuasion by deception. So the issue here is not, have they deceived us about something? The question is how many deceptions will it take for everybody who’s listening to this, and everybody who even hears about this will say, whoa, this is enough. Oxitec go back to the, uh, United Kingdom where you came from, and go back to bed and think of something else. Cause this is just a huge con job from the beginning to the end. [00:04:03] Luan Van Le: We’re gonna definitely talk more about the deceptions, but first tell us a little about Oxitec, the company making and pushing these genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Barry. [00:04:15] Barry Wray: Sure. Oxitec is a spinoff from Oxford. Oxitec. It’s located in England, right beside Oxford, basically. And it designs genetic modifications for different animals. This is not the only animal that is modified. And when we go back and study these other animals that they have modified, each one has been met with some type of controversy or exposure that shows, hey, it’s not as perfect as you said it was. They want to be totally opaque. When they wanted to release these olive flies in Spain that they had modified, because it was gonna do the same thing, that modified males would go out and mate with the females. And the whole population would crash. Spain said, that’s fine. We wanna put our scientists in place to oversee what you’re doing. And Oxitec pulled up stakes and left the country. All right. This is normal for Oxitec. They don’t want anybody looking over their shoulder. [00:05:12] Ed Russo: One of the things I wanted to bring up in terms of all of this is the fact that we would be better off as a prison. If we can just commit more and more crimes down here and make the entire Florida Keys a prison, they wouldn’t be able to do this. Why? Because prisoners and this is a federal law. Uh, you cannot conduct experiments on prisoners without informed consent. But the fact of the matter is this is an experiment. Remember, this is an Experimental Use Permit. It is an experiment and no one down here is getting informed or giving consent. So how could that possibly be? If that isn’t deception, I don’t know what is. I’m gonna have a drink. The bottom line is we should demand to have informed consent. That’s never happened. These people should go away. [00:05:58] Barry Wray: Now, let me expand on that just a little. So now these female mosquitoes that have DNA from the male mosquitoes are gonna go out and bite you. That’s never been studied. That’s never been studied, what happens if something eats one of those, if it’s an endangered species. There’s been nothing. They’ve obfuscated everything. They’ve been able to avoid that level of testing. We’ll talk about more how they accomplish that. [00:06:23] Luan Van Le: Whenever we introduce new technologies, in this case, a biopesticide, that’s a living pesticide, we need transparency and honesty so we can make informed decisions. Oxitec, the EPA, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. They haven’t been transparent or honest at all. Let’s talk about one of their biggest claims, that these GMO mosquitoes will eliminate or significantly reduce pesticide use. [00:06:47] Ed Russo: To make it perfectly clear. The Aedes aegypti, and this was a major issue back in the day because if, if it’s gonna reduce pesticide use, it would reduce the price. So we were trying to like, well, how much of that cost of this would be reduced? And they said, well, it’s not really gonna reduce the price. Why is that? Because the amount of pesticide you use for Aedes aegypti is 1% of, of the amount of pesticides that they use throughout the Florida Keys. [00:07:10] Luan Van Le: So they’re spraying pesticides to get rid of a lot of different kinds of mosquitoes. It’s so easy to fall for that one, because if in theory, the mosquito population is reduced, that would reduce pesticide spraying. But Aedes aegypti is just one species of disease-transmitting mosquito. Even if Oxitec’s GMO Aedes aegypti worked as intended, the GMO of males mating with wild females and crashing the, the wild population, pesticide spraying would, would still continue. Oxitec and the regulators pushing this technology omit a very important piece of information. [00:07:49] Ed Russo: So that’s another deception. Have a drink. The fact of the matter is if you actually read the FDA approval that they said was safe for humans, they did no work on humans whatsoever. There’s a part of FDA that just focuses on animals. That’s the division that did this. So the tests that the FDA did, the review the FDA did, we’re strictly on the mosquitoes. That it’s safe for the mosquitoes. I can’t make this stuff up. I, I think at this particular time we should take a pause and try and invent a word or come up with a word that’s more absurd than absurd or bizarre, because this is beyond anybody’s imagination. These are elected officials, our Mosquito Control Board. These are people that we invited here, from Oxitec. And these people are telling us that everything is safe. But it turns out that the FDA tests were on mosquitoes, not on humans. Why should we trust them? That’s another deception. [00:08:39] Luan Van Le: Okay, so we’re gonna get to the safety and risk issues later in the show. We know now that significant reductions in pesticide uses a lie. But I went to dismantle their other claims so that they can’t continue to fool people. There’s another big lie that they promote. NPR had Oxitec on one of their shows last year. Uh, the media are complicit in helping Oxitec spread these lies. I’m gonna play the clip from the NPR show… [00:09:07] NPR: This is 1A. I’m Jen White in Washington. Most of us think of mosquitoes as annoying buzzing insects that leave behind itchy bites on hot summer days. But those bites aren’t just irritating. They actually kill hundreds of thousands of people every year by transmitting deadly diseases like malaria and yellow fever. In Florida, there’s a new effort to solve the problem. This week, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is releasing thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild. It’s part of a two year pilot program aimed at preventing the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito from reproducing. [00:09:45] Luan Van Le: So in that introduction, they’re claiming that the GMO mosquitoes will reduce disease transmission. Uh, what do you guys have to say about that? [00:09:54] Ed Russo: So, let me ask you, Barry. Those two claims that Oxitec has made in front of us many, many times is that they reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and therefore you have a significant reduction in disease. Could you respond to those two statements? [00:10:09] Barry Wray: Sure. In 2016, 17 timeframe, they were testing in the Cayman. So in the Cayman, it wasn’t me, it was another group called GeneWatch that was able to get through a FOIA type release, and that means Freedom Of Information Act type release, they were able to force emails outta the Cayman. When you look at the discussion, the scientists for the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, Cayman Mosquito Control, they said that they had seen no effective suppression. The greatest suppression they saw in any one short period, which was a matter of weeks, was 61%. [00:10:50] Ed Russo: But wait a minute. You have to go back and I have to ask you this question based on 61%. What is the suppression rate using traditional methods of suppressing Aedes aegypti here in the Florida Keys. [00:11:05] Barry Wray: Better than 60%. [00:11:07] Ed Russo: What, what were they telling people? What was the percentage of suppression they were telling? [00:11:10] Barry Wray: Basically they were asked, what is your criteria for success or failure? They finally answered that after years, they finally answered that. They said 50%. 50% is worse than what we’re doing with normal boots on the ground, standard practices that we can operate here in the Keys. [00:11:30] Ed Russo: So Oxitec said that they had a 95% suppression rate down… [00:11:34] Barry Wray: 96, mm-hmm.
Ed Russo: …down and the Cayman. And when we got all the information back from the FOIA request it turned out to be 61%.[00:11:42] Barry Wray: At best. [00:11:42] Ed Russo: We have a lot of doctors down here in the Keys. And one of ’em, Dr. Jack Norris, went over there and observed all of this and turned out that he came back with the right data. And that is another deception. My God, this is just crazy. [00:11:55] Luan Van Le: 96% was a lie? [00:11:57] Barry Wray: 96% is what they still have on their website. [00:12:00] Ed Russo: It doesn’t work. They call ’em “Friendly Mosquitoes” and they make love with each other and they go out and do these wonderful things. But in reality, they have not proven anywhere, at any time that there has been a reduction in diseases. That has never happened. Why? Because the other mosquitoes show up and take over the Aedes aegypti’s turf. And so the Aedes aegypti, killing them makes no difference whatsoever in the, in the rate of diseases. [00:12:23] Luan Van Le: Yeah, and I wanna add something and make this crystal clear for people, the level of deception that we’re dealing with. And this is also for NPR and the rest of the clueless media. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not transmit malaria. It’s the Anopheles mosquito that transmits malaria. So malaria is irrelevant. The media shouldn’t even be mentioning malaria when we’re talking about Oxitec’s mosquitoes. Secondly, Aedes aegypti do transmit yellow fever. But the cases of Americans getting yellow fever are those that get it from traveling to Africa or South America. We don’t have a problem with locally transmitted yellow fever in the U.S. Even the CDC says on their website about this, about yellow fever. So NPR and the, the rest of the media are misinforming people and fearmongering to help push Oxitec’s technology. [00:13:15] Barry Wray: You’re exactly right. They’re fearmongering. And that, this is what they do. Again, it goes back to what Ed led off with. This is persuasion by deception. All right. And this is what they do. [00:13:25] Luan Van Le: But Aedes aegypti do carry dengue, another feared disease. Unlike malaria and yellow fever, there have been some locally transmitted cases in Florida. Can you talk about that, Barry? [00:13:37] Barry Wray: We’ve had two outbreaks of dengue fever in the past hundred years and, in the Keys, and there, I believe there was one other outbreak of dengue over in Texas. All right. But don’t hold me on that. Now here in the Keys, we had an outbreak between 2009, 2010. So how they defeated that, they went out and they used the newspapers as feedback, you know, with the community. To let them know how they were doing. And the mosquito workers would go out and work with community to make sure they got rid of water. And where they couldn’t get rid of water, they would put larvacide in it. Which is just a simple bacterium that is harmless to humans called BTI. So bottom line is they would go out and they did this and over a period of about 10 months, they completely eradicated that outbreak. It was the larger of the two outbreaks, uh, about a hundred people. All right. We had another one back in 2020, right during the height of COVID. All right. They used the exact same techniques to eradicate it. It took them a matter of a few months to eradicate that. About somewhere north of 60 people were infected and in total. So we know that the boots on the ground work. And the funny thing is, when you go look at the mosquito data that preceded that, I looked at it for eight years, and they knew that those mosquitoes were growing in density in these areas. And they did nothing to warn the neighborhoods and say, hey, we need to put an extra effort in. Let’s get ’em reduced back down. Let’s do this to prevent that from happening. So here you have somebody that flies in, has dengue, they get bit, now it spreads everywhere because the density of mosquitoes is so high. [00:15:19] Luan Van Le: You said they let the mosquito population rise. Are you saying that they did this in interest of Oxitec? [00:15:26] Barry Wray: We don’t know. I’m not shooting at anybody and going, you did it on purpose. But if it wasn’t on purpose, it was just negligent. And that’s exactly what happened. [00:15:35] Ed Russo: Yeah, that’s again, another persuasion by deception. How many deceptions are we up with? It was the FDA. That it’s an experiment. They’re not giving us prior notice and providing consent. The reduction of spraying. It’s all a bunch of baloney. That’s three. I don’t know how many people need to jump off this bus. [00:15:52] Luan Van Le: So now that we’ve covered the pesticide and disease reduction lies, let’s get back to Oxitec. The biotech industry has a lot of money backing it up. And billionaire investors see patented GMO crops and animals as being one driver of the next wave of billions that they’re going to deposit into their bank accounts. We need to know who these people are. [00:16:13] Barry Wray: That’s exactly what we’re dealing with here. A guy named Randall Kirk is the problem. He is the principal shareholder, the majority shareholder, if you will, for Oxitec. He also controls another company called Precigen. He does that through a shell organization called Third Securities that he owns pretty much. So he’s been the problem all along. And he’s the one that has pushed all this technology. He also pushed the salmon technology that nobody wants, the Arctic apple, all this stuff. These all come from one guy. All right. Randall J Kirk. [00:16:51] Luan Van Le: Randall J Kirk. GMO apples that nobody wants. GMO salmon that nobody wants. And GMO mosquitoes that nobody wants and shouldn’t have been approved. What’s going on here? [00:17:06] Barry Wray: This is your problem is one guy, all right, that’s pushing all this technology. He’s financing, now you have Bill Gates and Bill Gates Foundation on the other end of this, helping out. And of course you have all the other regular players like Bayer, who’s bought Monsanto, Syngenta, and a few other places that are big advocates of this. Cuz they all want to get in this game. Now what happened? What happened to the EPA? [00:17:33] Ed Russo: The real reason why they were able to get it approved because Oxitec hired a lobbyist by the name of… [00:17:38] Barry Wray: Roy Bailey. [00:17:39] Ed Russo: Roy Bailey is a managing partner of a law firm called, which starts with… [00:17:44] Luan Van Le: Okay, Ed, we’ll, we’ll get to Roy Bailey a little later. But as I stated in the beginning, this has been going on for 12 years. So I wanna go back and lay out a chronology to put this into more context for people. The GMO mosquitoes go through the FDA. They do a sham assessment in 2016, as you mentioned Ed. Then the mosquitoes change regulatory hands and the EPA takes over in 2017. But years before this, there was a growing resistance to the whole idea of GMO mosquitoes brewing in the Florida Keys because the Keys, uh, were going to be the first target for Oxitec’s experiments. Oxitec showed up in 2010. Can you guys give us the story from the beginning. [00:18:36] Ed Russo: So throughout the Florida Keys, we have many environmental organizations and we all are focused on specific things. I’m a member of Reef Relief and we focus on the quality of our reefs. But when the, uh, the big oil spill happened by BP and the Gulf of Mexico, we had to bring everybody together and take hazmat training. And we got everybody. It was just a huge operation. And you know that that happened in April of 2010. By the time, uh, we had that pretty much controlled was well in 2011. And just as this was coming to an end, we had a couple members of our organization, which was very big, we have eight to 10,000 people, which is a lot for the Florida Keys. There was a couple people saying we need to stop the genetically modified stuff. And it was like, hey listen, we all need a break. We don’t need to talk about genetically modified anything. These people know what they’re doing. Right? They forced me to go to this meeting at city hall where all these things were said by Oxitec that were absurd. And so we essentially got the city commission to ask three questions. What’s your authority? What’s your standards of operation? What’s your determination of success or failure? And this one person who is way in the front to the left, by the name of De Mier, she got up and she started saying things that were outrageous. I’m saying, oh, this is gonna be embarrassing. Because she is challenging Oxitec. People from Oxford University. Come on, she can’t know anything. And the bottom line was Mila De Mier was right on everything she brought up. And Oxitec just promoted a bunch of deceptions. [00:20:05] Barry Wray: Yeah, Mila was about as fierce as it got. All right. This woman was fearless. And because of it, everybody wanted to follow her. When, uh, the oil spill happened, she smeared herself with oil and was with signs on the side of the road. I happened to be a big loud mouth and that’s how we all congealed together as Ed said. But we did a lot of great things. Well, the next thing that comes along was the mosquitoes. And Mila was right on top of this. She was a mother trying to protect her three children. And she wanted to make a difference. She wanted to make it a safer environment for them going forward. And when this whole mosquito thing came about, the Oxitec and the Mosquito Control District here in Florida called the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, they had a presentation at the, um, Harvey Government Center in Key West. And everybody walked in thinking, this is neat, you’re gonna use mosquitoes to kill mosquitoes. And we all walked outta there, Mila and Megan Morrison at the time, they had me watching on the government TV. And we were all just in shock at the end of this, that every question that got asked was never really answered. It was just sidestep. And what Ed described is what transpired shortly after at the city commission meeting, where the city commission had got wind of this, and some of them were there, and everybody was upset. And they put their foot down and said, you’re not gonna do this in Key West with our condonement. And Key West really couldn’t stand in the way legally. But they weren’t gonna condone it. And what Oxitec did was they pulled up stakes and they moved to this little community in the county. Well, that’s different government. And so they moved out there to this place called Key Haven and said, we’re gonna do the experiment here. They didn’t ask anybody. They just decided they’d go convince ’em it was a good idea. That didn’t work out real well for Oxitec because after basically four years of education, nobody in the neighborhood wanted it. There were just too many open problems. And… [00:22:15] Ed Russo: They had a petition. Did they not? Didn’t they have a petition, not a petition, a referendum. [00:22:19] Barry Wray: They had three different surveys that they did that were coercive surveys. They would show up at your front door and ask you, yes or no. Are you in favor of this or that? And people would say no. And then they would try and convince ’em they should be. Well, that’s not how a survey is done, right. This, this is what went on. They did coercive things like that. We eventually ended up running our own survey, which was really simple. Are you in favor or are you not? 75% of the people on that survey said, no, we’re not in favor. That forced the Mosquito Control to run a referendum. And they were gonna run it just specifically for Key Haven. What did they do eight weeks before the election? They said, oh, we’re gonna do it countywide. been talking for an hour or so. And you already have just a little taste of how complex this whole subject is. How do you expect our county to make an informed decision in eight weeks? Especially when you’ve got $150,000 in marketing coming from Oxitec to tell ’em how wonderful it is when it’s all a charade. And this is what they’ve done for years. And they continue to do that. [00:23:30] Ed Russo: But what happened? What happened to the referenda on Key Haven? [00:23:33] Barry Wray: Key Haven turned it down by a two to one margin. [00:23:38] Ed Russo: Okay. That’s good. [00:23:39] Barry Wray: And so it did not go forward. [00:23:42] Ed Russo: But you were talking about Mila De Mier, if memory serves be correct, she was very instrumental in creating this petition. In fact, I think she had over 200,000 signatures on the petition. And she took it up to Washington DC and she gave it to the EPA. And the EPA lost it. You can’t make this shit up right. EPA lost it. So then Mila came back, did it again, she probably had a total of 300,000 signatures. Brought it up there again. And she drowned in the pool that she was swimming in, at the hotel she was in, that next [00:24:12] Barry Wray: The morning before she was going to the EPA. [00:24:15] Ed Russo: She was just amazing. It was all about her kids all the time. And there was never an autopsy. To this day, I’m not satisfied. They called it some kind of a seizure. But it’s just strange things happen in the world. And why would this happen? It was just terrible. You get used to this level of chicanery when it comes to EPA and Oxitec. And so we’ve established a hit list of deceptions that, that we have started from the first day they showed up. Because again, they showed up and said, this is not an experiment. Well, it’s an Experimental Use Permit. They can’t back away from there. But again, if we all lived in a prison, we would have informed consent. They cannot conduct, the government cannot conduct experiments on prisoners, but somehow they figured out to ignore all that. They’re conducting it in the Florida Keys. And soon to be California. Without any informed consent. And Barry brings us up all the time. The Nuremberg Laws, you cannot experiment on people without their informed consent. That’s what they’re about to do here. They just keep it up. And they just assume because they control the EPA through a very powerful lobbyist, they can do whatever the heck they want. [00:25:22] Barry Wray: And Mila goes to every one of these meetings. Every one of these Florida Keys Mosquito Control District meetings and reports back every time. Tells us what’s going on. And this went on for two years. And two years later it started getting very amplified. They’re pushing on Key Haven, all of this. And it got me to get more involved and she drew me in. She drew everybody in and she would put stickers on me and do everything. She was unabashed. Her and, uh, Megan Morrison went to the hearing where the CEO of Oxitec basically lied three times in a row at the start, right after he was sworn in to the Congress. They went there. They sat right behind him with signs and they were all stickered up themselves and had signs and embarrassed the hell out of him. It was awesome. All right. This is how fearless she was. So the petition she wrote, first time she went there and handed it to the EPA. They thought that she had mosquitoes in the box. They actually shredded it. They shredded it because they were afraid there were mosquitoes in there. Genetically modified mosquitoes, let’s destroy it! That’s what the EPA did. So then the petition grew. It went from 150,000 up to 240,000 and she was there in DC with another friend that had traveled with her. They’d gone around and seen elected officials one day and the next morning, she was scheduled to go to the EPA and basically hand them 240,000 signatures printed out. Here you go. Here’s the petition. To make a difference. All right. Usually they won’t respond to anything unless you have a hundred thousand signatures. She had 240,000. It was growing. And she went for a swim about nine o’clock in the morning. And her friend didn’t go with her. She was just relaxing in the hotel room. Mila went down to go for a first swim and she, as the coroner states, she had an epileptic seizure and drowned. She was all by herself. We will never know what really happened between the point she left the hotel room and the point where she was discovered face down in the pool. Because we never got the videos from the hotel. There was never any further investigation. The family did not want to do anything other than accept the coroner’s report. [00:27:59] Ed Russo: And then we had the referendum and we killed it on the referendum. And unfortunately the county wide was pushed by the Republican chairman. Why this became political, I have no idea. But the Republican chairman of Monroe County is instrumental in all this cause Monroe County is heavily Republican. It’s somewhat kind of a coincidence also that the chairman of the Mosquito Control Board is the same guy. A guy by the name of Phil Goodman, chairman of the Republican party, chairman of the Mosquito Control Board. And somehow they put this petition in at the last minute and they, but they use that to say that they have consent. [00:28:35] Barry Wray: So what happened after they decided to run that referendum was Oxitec, through Randall Kirk and other organizations, not Oxitec directly because that would’ve been federal election commissions issues, right. Because they’re a foreign national company. So $150,000 went into fund marketing agencies, three different marketing agencies, to basically promote to win the referendum. And it won by a 56 to 44% margin. [00:29:09] Luan Van Le: And how much funding did you have? [00:29:11] Barry Wray: Oh us? We had nothing. We got a few, a few, I think, $10,000, 15,000, maybe in total that we got over that period. And we watched Oxitec basically infringe on federal election commissions laws because Derric Nimmo was the one that was teaching these people how to go out and lobby the public. All right. And he’s from the UK. You’re not allowed to do that. It’s an election. You have to stand down. Oh, we actually have a whistleblower on that. She still lives in Key West and she’s still very willing to talk about it. [00:29:46] Ed Russo: You have these people like Nimmo and all these people, they’re all professionals. They’re all paid. That’s what they do. And we still came this close to beating them. [00:29:55] Luan Van Le: Okay. So let’s recap. Oxitec shows up around 2010. They first want to experiment in Key West. People in Key West realize Oxitec is just a bunch of snake oil salesman. So then Oxitec hops over to Key Haven. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District decides to put Key Haven up for a public vote, that’s a voter referendum that’s going to happen in November, 2016. But at the last minute they opened the voter referendum beyond Key Haven to the entire Monroe County, who know nothing about these GMO mosquitoes, except for the positive advertising all over the airways by Oxitec about how their GMO mosquitoes will get rid of wild mosquitoes and pesticides and disease. Key Haven, where more people know the truth, rejects Oxitec in the voter referendum by 65%. But outside of Key Haven in wider Monroe County, 56% vote in favor of Oxitec. So now Oxitec and their allies in the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District can say the public sentiment is on their side. [00:31:04] Barry Wray: Yes, we lost the referendum. They revel in this. We have authority. We can release it anywhere we want. No, you can’t because the approval from the EPA, that was the FDA at the time. All right. The EPA hadn’t gotten engaged yet. That was the FDA that approved it. The Experimental Use Permit was specific. It was only for Key Haven so they could not use it. And they had to re-apply. [00:31:32] Luan Van Le: They had to re-apply. Oxitec is forced to back off despite winning Monroe County because they lost Key Haven. After years of campaigning, everyone thought we put the genie back in the bottle. Unbeknownst to us, they’re actually moving forward. Tell us about that. [00:31:49] Barry Wray: In 2016, we thought we’d won. We had an actual party to get together and rejoiced that we’d really stomped ’em finally. And they weren’t gonna be able to go forward. But at that party, I said very clearly, they will be back. We didn’t know how they would come back. And what would happen. But there were nefarious things that happened behind the scenes in 2017, where they hired a political operative. The political operative was extremely diabolical and successful. That resulted in, in powers behind the scenes that we weren’t quite aware of. And even in 2018, we weren’t aware of that. We were working earnestly on science and facts and gathering data. So we could defeat this because they had re-applied for a countywide permit that they could do this anywhere they wanted. And now we had to defeat that countywide permit. And Dr. Jack Norris had gone to the Cayman and he’d come back and he had lots of pictures of how atrocious their lab practices were. They were growing mold in the lab, just horrendous. So we get a meeting with the EPA. And we spend two days pretty much up in DC. We went around to our elected officials and met with them and everything. And then we had a meeting late one afternoon with the EPA, just Dr. Norris and I, and we presented everything to them. At the end of the meeting, there were certain people within that meeting, Robert McNally, Bob McNally, as he’s called, who was the head of the Office of Pesticide Programs, which has to make the decision on this. You could tell he was shocked by a lot of the information. Things like, hey, there were no allergen tests, or at least Oxitec claimed they had no allergenicity, and we could show they did. We showed very clearly there were likely antibiotic bacterial promotion out of their process, which means, antibiotic bacteria. Let me put that in perspective. People talk about the number of people that get killed by mosquitoes each year. It’s equal for the number of people that get killed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. And it’s growing, where in 2030, I believe it is, I’m trying to remember the exact data. It’s phenomenal. It’s like it dwarfs the number of people that are getting killed by mosquitoes. So it’s a huge issue. Well, later that year they came to the Keys, the EPA science team, and they basically did not reject Oxitec. They gave Oxitec the graciousness to be able to pull their experimental use application. Now, one of the other things we showed to the EPA was that Oxitec lied on their permit. In several places. We were able to prove they lied. We knew that the EPA typically rejected permit applications where they found lies. All right. We prove they lied. And I will stand up to that and they can come face me and I can show they did it. So we won again. The EPA did not approve that Experimental Use Permit. They were defeated. They pulled that permit by the grace of the EPA, and they said, we’re gonna re-apply with our new technology we’re working on. And they did that approximately nine months, ten months later in September of 2019. And that’s for this new version of the mosquito that has got permission to be released in 2020. And to go through that whole sequence of processes of what happened is essential to really understand the details behind the scenes. Because the reason why they got their approval for 2020 comes from the work that they did behind the scenes with the political operative in 2017. And it’s the same reason why everything today is hidden and nobody knows what the science is. And we’ve had tons of people that are scientifically recognized experts in this field object to this release in the United States. [00:36:14] Ed Russo: But that’s where it starts, Barry. As soon as they submitted this, we all laughed at it. It was just the same crap. They didn’t really change anything. And so by the time COVID hit, we knew there was a whole series of public hearings they had to go to. We would’ve blown ’em up. And they got into these webinars, right? Where you weren’t able to ask any questions. You had to text it in there and they would just ignore it. So we went through that whole period of time for about four or five months with them being absolutely belligerent. And they made comments like the following, when we objected, they said, “we have the absolute obligation to let you ask any question you want, but we have no obligation to answer it.” And then all of a sudden it finally got to the EPA and it was extremely short period of time. And with 35,000 objectors, they approve it. And this all has to do with our good friend, uh, Roy Bailey. [00:37:09] Luan Van Le: Now we can talk about Roy Bailey. Who is Roy Bailey? [00:37:14] Barry Wray: Roy Bailey is the diabolical political operative I referred to. What Roy Bailey did was he beat his chest, that he was Donald Trump’s inauguration finance chair. Donald Trump had no idea this man was running around DC using the power, that deception, that persuasion by deception that Ed refers to, to convince people that he was going to bring the hammer down on their head if [they] didn’t do what he asked them to, because he was powerful by Donald Trump. And he was not. Trump, actually later on, we found out was very upset at the fact that these people were going around and doing that. But it doesn’t matter. We proceeded with science. That’s how we approached it. [00:38:03] Luan Van Le: So the EPA rejects the science, they approve this thing. [00:38:07] Barry Wray: EPA did not reject the science. The EPA never reviewed the science. They never had any science to review. Oxitec submitted claims without any scientific proof and the EPA accepted them. Now they did that because Robert McNally got demoted. Nancy Beck, who was in charge, got demoted. Basically she got put out of the EPA. [00:38:31] Ed Russo: But not only did Roy Bailey promote genetically modified mosquitoes. He manipulated behind the scenes to get wolbachia rejected and covered up. We still don’t have any information on the wolbachia test that was conducted down here on Big Pine, I think it was. And it was a tremendous success… [00:38:51] Barry Wray: No, it was uh Stock Island. [00:38:53] Ed Russo: Stock Island… Tremendous success, not a bit of data. We had a FOIA request where we found emails of Roy Bailey manipulating behind the scenes to keep that from going public. And he has been successful to this day. [00:39:07] Luan Van Le: Roy Bailey was a political lobbyist and he was successful in getting the EPA to essentially look the other way, so EPA could give them the rubber stamp. Is that correct? [00:39:21] Barry Wray: Yep. [00:39:21] Luan Van Le: Okay. So let’s recap again. Oxitec is beaten in Key Haven in November 2016. In 2017, the new Trump administration is coming in, along with a new EPA administration and a change in management. Oxitec submits an application for their GMO mosquitoes, but pulls the application since the EPA was likely to reject it because of all the problems. But they submit an application for a new GMO mosquito with the same problems as the first. And through all this Roy Bailey is lobbying the EPA for Oxitec. The EPA opens a public regulatory comment period in the fall of 2019 and receives over 30,000 public comments. With only about 56 in favor of granting Oxitec’s Experimental Use Permit. But EPA ignores the public and the lack of science and approves Oxitec’s experiment anyway. Then in 2020, the COVID pandemic takes over the country. And under the cover of the pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and Oxitec partner to hold webinars where they can easily avoid hard questions and not allow people to speak. Oxitec got federal approval with EPA. They already have the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District in their pocket. But they still need state approval. They still need approval from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or FDACS. Is that correct? Ed? [00:41:00] Ed Russo: Yep. State approval. And they got state approval. [00:41:05] Luan Van Le: And they got state approval. Why did we put stock in FDACS? Why did we think we could stop it on the state level? [00:41:13] Ed Russo: We thought that because the person who’s heading up that FDACS is a Democrat running for the governor, she would put a stop to this insanity. Cause this was a political ploy and she would put a stop to that. So because it was Rudy Giuliani’s firm through Roy Bailey who got to through the EPA with his influence. Therefore, it was a Republican cabal articulated by Phil Goodman, the chairman of the Republican party in Monroe County. That’s where the connection was. So if we could have gotten a Democrat somewhere in this line of authority, we could have stopped it. And we thought Nikki Fried would see through it. We gave her all the information. Didn’t even show up at the meeting. And then signed the authority. Strange. Other than that, it was great. [00:42:01] Barry Wray: Other than that, it’s been great. Ugh. [00:42:04] Republican cabal. Democrat running for governor. It doesn’t matter which party when it comes to corruption and collusion with billionaire funded corporations. What is wolbachia and why is the coverup of those trials that Ed mentioned so important? How did the pandemic further help Oxitec? What happened through 2020? Stay tuned for part two. Subscribe to GMO and Toxin Free USA’s YouTube channel. Visit our website at toxinfreeusa.org and sign up for our email newsletter so you don’t miss an episode. Until then, let’s Fork the System and do what we can to make the world a better place.
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