The Food and Drug Administration could soon approve a field trial for releasing several million genetically modified male mosquitoes in a small enclave in the Florida Keys, according to the New York Times a few days ago. Residents in Key Haven, Florida, with 444 houses near Key West, have been fighting this possibility since 2011.
If approved, Oxitec, a British biotechnology company, already has permission to set up a lab in the office of the Marathon, FL mosquito control district. There imported mosquito eggs will be injected with synthetic DNA, reared, and released with the goal to kill the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes aegypti), the species responsible for the viral and incurable diseases of dengue and chikungunya. The plan is for only modified male mosquitoes to be released; after mating in the wild, the special gene the males are carrying will kill their offspring.
Field trials have already begun in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia, Brazil, and Panama with varying degrees of success from the 70 million Oxitec mosquitoes released. Brazil will apparently be the first country to release these mosquitoes commercially.
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