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A genetically modified mosquito has landed on Keys.Here’s what you need to know | Nation / World




Over 20 million GM mosquitoes are coming to the Florida Keys this year in a groundbreaking project by British biotechnology company Oxitec and the mosquito control district in Monroe County.

This mosquito control method has never been used in the United States. This is a pilot program and the first trial started last week.

This project aims to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti carrying diseases such as Zika fever. This is the first time in the country that the US Environmental Protection Agency has issued an “ license” for this method.

Andrea Real, Secretary-General of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, said he was seeing the “toolbox” shrink due to resistance to insect pesticides. Keys had the first outbreak of dengue last year since 2010. That was when Mosquito Control began to work with Oxytech.

“Dengue was something we were worried about in other areas,” Lille said. “When it came to our doorstep, we saw other illnesses. Last year’s dengue fever and Miami-Dade Zika fever. This is considering these new tools for mosquito control. That’s why. “

Here are some questions and answers about Keys’ GMO Mosquito Project:

Question: What is a GMO mosquito?

Answer: Genetically modified mosquitoes, in this case the non-biting male Aedes aegypti, are produced in the laboratory by the British biotechnology company Oxitec. Once released, they are supposed to mate with wild, naturally occurring females. The “self-limiting” gene prevents the offspring of the chewing female from surviving.

Q: What do mosquitoes do?

According to Oxitec and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, male GMO mosquitoes are supposed to reduce or control the annoying Aedes aegypti population.

They do this by mating. But their female offspring will not survive, Oxitec says.

The “death mechanism” built into mosquitoes is aimed at preventing mating from producing viable female offspring, says Oxitec. Male offspring pass the “self-limiting gene” to half of their offspring. Only female mosquitoes bite and feed humans.

In the first attempt of the project, the female dies when the male and female eggs in the box hatch.

“Men will survive,” said Nathan Rose, head of regulatory issues at Oxitec. “They have genes, but they don’t kill them. They can go to pass on their genes. Only female offspring will die.”

Aedes aegypti accounts for 4% of the Keys mosquito population. However, according to the mosquito control area, it is responsible for the spread of virtually all diseases.

Q: Where are the mosquitoes released?

A: So far, boxes of eggs, food and water have been placed in six locations (all private residences), lower key and middle key. Two are in Cudjoe Key, one is in Ramrod Key, and three are in Vaca Key.

Around these locations, about 12,000 mosquitoes appear weekly for about 12 weeks, Oxitec says.

Q: Has this been done before?

A: Regarding mosquitoes, it is not in the United States.

This is the first time the US Environmental Protection Agency has issued an “ license” for this particular mosquito control method.

However, this technology took place in 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Oxitec calls it a success and reports that it suppressed up to 95% of Aedes aegypti in 13 weeks.

However, these numbers can be bloated. An email obtained by a group of activists revealed that the majority of a government treatise advertising a 62% suppression rate was written by Oxitec.

Oxitec uses the same technology in the United States for the crop pests pink bollworm and diamondback moth.

Q: How long will the GMO mosquito test last? What’s next?

The first exam, which began in the week of April 26, lasts about 12 weeks, Oxitec says. In the second stage, about 20 million mosquitoes are released.

Mosquito release is expected to be completed within one mosquito season — by the end of the year, Oxitec says. The second phase may not start by mid-June, but may be after that.

Q: Are there any health risks to humans?

A: Oxitec says there are no health risks.

“Oxitec mosquitoes have been determined by both the US EPA and FDA, as well as by multiple regulatory agencies, including Brazil, which has successfully conducted numerous field demonstrations in Brazil, to be safe and pose no threat to humans or the environment. “The company’s global spokesman, Meredith Fensom, said.

Oxitec’s male mosquitoes will not bite and will not affect their homes or property, she said. “Our mosquitoes are safe, non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-biting and self-limiting, so there is no risk from mosquitoes.”

Some key residents do not buy company lines. They say there are too many questions about how mosquito release affects the environment.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency last year approved Oxitec to proceed with the project in Florida until 2022. The Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services approved Keys’ trial in June.

Five elected boards of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District approved the trial in August with a 4: 1 vote. A majority of board members said that traditional methods of targeting Aedes aegypti are becoming increasingly ineffective.

Q: Is there a Zika or Dengue problem with the key?

Key had a problem with mosquito-borne disease.

Aedes aegypti carries and spreads Zika fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya fever. In recent years, Florida Keys has been infected locally with cases of dengue and travel-related cases of Zika.

“Mosquito control authorities are working hard to reduce Aedes aegypti,” said Meredithensom, Global Public Relations Officer at Oxitec. How to keep the number of mosquitoes low. “

Keys had the first dengue fever since 2010 last year.

Q: Will traditional mosquito extermination continue?

A: Even after the trial, the fight against mosquitoes continues on a regular basis.

“Normal mosquito control operations will continue,” said Andrea Real, Secretary-General of the Florida Keys Mosquitoes Control District. “We anticipate that the Aedes aegypti population is declining and we do not need to use any specific control measures for Aedes aegypti.”

Q: Where do you go if you have further questions?

© 2021 Miami Herald.Please visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.


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