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Bill Gates-backed company releases first batch of genetically modified “self-destructive” mosquitoes

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British biotechnology company Oxitec Release hundreds of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes Test new methods to control the reproduction of Aedes aegypti, a species that spreads dengue, Zika, and yellow fever. A life-threatening infectious disease.

The first batch of mosquitoes was released last week In Florida Keys, located on the south coast of the state, “after a decade of planning and regulatory approval,” Confirmed The company approved by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in a statement. He explained that in the coming months, he would “host a male Aedes aegypti release box and slowly release self-limiting male mosquitoes” in six locations.

The project, with the support of local governments, consists of releasing millions of male mosquitoes with a modified gene called OX5034 that limits the survival of mating females. Therefore, males eat nectars, while females eat only blood and will die before they grow enough to sting and spread the disease. As new males grow, they mate with more females and the amount of Aedes aegypti is further reduced.

Oxitec says that this species accounts for only 4% of the Florida Keys mosquito population, Responsible for the transmission of almost all illnesses In the archipelago.

In addition, the company explained that the technology for Aedes aegypti was successfully tested in São Paulo, Brazil in 2019 and was able to control up to 95% of this species’ population after only 13 weeks of treatment. Did.

However, the project has been criticized by Florida Keys residents and advocates. Concerned about possible effects on both humans and other species.. “I think it’s a crime that we’re involved in this experiment. We endanger everything, get nothing, and everything is in the interests of Oxitec,” said the province last month. Resident Meagan Hull said at a parliamentary meeting.

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