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June 2, 2016: Genetically Modified Male Mosquitoes May Reduce Mosquito Population by Up to 90%

Although many Key West, Florida, residents are up in arms about it, proposed testing trials of releasing GMO mosquitoes to help combat Zika is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Gillian Mohney reports that “The head of a British biotech company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito in an effort to lower the population of the insects that spread the Zika virus called for federal regulators to expedite a decision about on conducting a test of these mosquitoes in Florida.

“Hadyn Parry, the CEO of Oxitec, spoke at a congressional hearing about his company’s mosquitoes, which are genetically modified in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus.

“The GMO mosquitoes are all male and hence do not bite. When released into the wild, they mate with females and produce nonviable offspring, thereby reducing the mosquito population without the need for pesticides. They have already been used in Brazil and the Cayman Islands to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

“’I think we should encourage them to find the processes to make this happen,’ Parry said, noting that an emergency route for approval may be appropriate in this case. He pointed out that the GMO mosquitoes can reach mosquitoes in areas where traditional spraying can’t, such as in indoor areas.

“’We can target the mosquito as an integrated approach. We have now the technology to control the mosquito in an urban environment and focus as a priority,’ he said.

“The congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology held the hearing on the Zika virus and the research being done to understand and fight the virus. Currently, at least 500 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in the U.S., though virtually all contracted the disease while outside the country. In limited cases, the disease was spread through sexual contact, according to health officials.”

Source: ABC News

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