750 Million GM Mosquitoes Will Be Released in the Florida Keys
With the aim of reducing rates of the mosquito-borne illnesses yellow fever and dengue, a pilot program will release 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys in 2021, thanks to approval by the barrier islands’ Mosquito Control District Board of Commissioners at a meeting on Tuesday (August 18).
The strain of GM mosquitoes, known as OX513A, is an altered form of Aedes aegypti created by UK-based biotech firm Oxitec. Released mosquitoes will be all male, as male mosquitoes do not bite and generally only feed on nectar. Thanks to a conditionally lethal genetic variant, when OX513A mosquitoes mate with wild females, their offspring should die before they are old enough for females to begin biting.
Over the last 10 years, Oxitec deployed these GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Brazil. This will be the first release of any GM mosquitoes in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and scientists at the University of Florida will oversee program.
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