Fighting Mosquito With GMO Mosquito: The Battle Brewing in the Florida Keys

S. MacLaughlin,  NBC 6 South Florida,  2020.

There’s a battle brewing in the Florida Keys. It involves blood suckers that are spreading disease. The fight to take them out is going down in a science lab.

Scientists are a few months into an experiment to stop the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito. Their weapon of choice? A genetically modified mosquito.

But some environment advocates question the strategy.
This year, the Florida Keys had an outbreak of Dengue fever, which was the first time that had happened in 10 years. It gives new urgency to the controversial effort to get rid of the Aedes aegypti, which has become harder to fight.

Chad Huff with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District says the mosquito is resilient.

“The Aedes aegypti is a very hearty mosquito that thrives exclusively around people,” Huff explained.

The species is from a small part of Africa, but it somehow spread all over the world, including in Florida. The mosquito carries diseases such as Dengue fever, Zika and yellow fever.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has had a long, on-going fight with the mosquito. So far, nothing really seems to stick.

“Insect pests are becoming resistant to the traditional tools that have been used to control them,” said Meredith Fensom, scientist with Oxitec.

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