Bill Gates-backed startup releases millions of genetically modified mosquitoes

ENTREPRENEUR STAFF,  Entrepreneur,  2021.

The British company Oxitec released a cloud of hundreds of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes to study how to control their reproduction and thus stop the spread of dengue, Zika, malaria, etc. As reported by Axios , the company, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation , released the mosquitoes a week ago from the Florida Keys. In a statement, Oxitec explained that this experiment seeks to study ways to stop the reproduction of Aedes aegypti , the main transmitters of potentially fatal diseases. Why are Oxitec mosquitoes different? According to the company , the males in their insect cloud have a modified gene, called OX5034, that restricts the survival of the females they mate with. Thus, mosquitoes will not grow large enough to bite humans (only females consume blood; males feed on nectar). Oxitec noted that this species only represents 4% of the mosquito population in Florida, but it is the most disease-transmitting species. The startup has already released millions of modified insects around the world, including in Brazil and the Cayman Islands.

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