Educating the Public on Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Buckner, Eva A.,  UF - IFAS,  2020.

In May 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Oxitec’s Experimental Use Permit to carry out pilot projects in the Florida Keys. Oxitec is a biotechnology company founded in 2002 out of Oxford University in the United Kingdom. They will be collaborating with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. One of the pilot projects will involve releasing Oxitec’s GM Ae. aegypti male mosquitoes (strain OX5034) into a small area to test their ability to reduce the population of wild Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. This project will be the first time that GM mosquitoes are released into nature in the U.S. and is expected to begin in early spring 2021 and continue through spring 2022. The purpose of this document is to provide essential information about GM mosquitoes to the public and those involved in mosquito control in Florida, the U.S., and beyond. Below we present a series of answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of GM mosquitoes, the argument for using GM mosquitoes to control mosquito-transmitted diseases, and the potential impact of this project on the environment and human health. Our hope is that these answers will provide readers with insight into the reasons why GM mosquitoes are being tested for mosquito control in Florida and elsewhere.

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