Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Approved To Battle Zika Virus Spread

August 8, 2016

The spread of the Zika virus is seems unstoppable as science and health workers rush to protect people from the virus.  Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a field trial that would release genetically modified Zika-killing mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. The project, led by Oxitec, a biotech company that focuses on insect control, calls for the release of thousands of genetically engineered male yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) mosquitoes to breed with wild females. The lab insects contain a gene mutation that causes the larvae to die once the female lays eggs.  Oxitec claims that trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands have reduced mosquito populations by 90% compared to the 30%-60% rates of spraying insecticide.  The company will have to win the approval of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which plans to vote on the proposal. While it’s true that scientists can’t be certain about the environmental impacts the trial will have, the methods currently being tested are unlikely to halt Zika’s spread. The Federal Trade Commission has also chimed in on the Zika crisis, warning businesses and consumers be we wary of products that claim to repeal the Zika-carrying mosquitoes.  A slew of products like wristbands, patches, ultrasonic devices, and stickers that claim to repel Zika-carrying mosquitoes have been spotted.  The Centers for Disease Control says the only approved method to repeal the Yellow Fever mosquito is products containing DEET, Picardin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.

Source: Fusion