Release the Beast? Genetically modified mosquitos for diease control

G. Ferrante,  Palatinate,  2022.

The company Oxitec is an example how genetic technologies can be used in managing unwanted species in a sustainable way.Oxitec jumped to the headlines in March with permits being issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the release of around 2.4 billion male mosquitos over two years in Florida and California. This is part of an expansion of their existing trial of releasing a genetically modified mosquito species in a bid to suppress the species Aedes aegypti in the USA. Aedes aegypti also known as the yellow fever mosquito has a main role in spreading debilitating diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Zika virus in many countries. Aedes aegypti also is an invasive species in many subtropical regions, spanning from the south-eastern US to the Pacific Islands and South-East Asia. Oxitec’s signature technology involves the use of a ‘self-limiting’ gene which only activates in female mosquitos after reproduction.

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