750 million GM mosquitos set for release in Florida Keys.

Editorial Staff,  E&T,  2020.

Local authorities have approved proposals to release hundreds of millions of genetically modified (GM) modified mosquitos in Florida, in an effort to control populations of diseases spread by the organism.

The project will involve the release of a GM mosquito (Aedes aegypti) called OX5034, which has been adapted to pass on a protein which kills female offspring before they can hatch and grow large enough to bite while male mosquitos mature to adulthood and continue to pass along the modified genes. Only female mosquitos bite for blood (in order to mature eggs); males are not a carrier for disease.

It is hoped that this will suppress spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Zika.

The project is being organised by Oxford-based Oxitec, which carried an OX5034 trial in Brazil in 2018. Oxitec reported that this achieved up to 96 per cent suppression of the disease-transmitting mosquito populations while no harm was caused to other insects.

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