2 BILLION Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Cleared for Release in California and Florida

British biotech firm Oxitec announced this week that it has received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its genetically modified mosquitoes to be released in parts of Florida and in California, following the completion of a pilot program last year. The modified male insects are designed to produce infertile offspring, ideally reducing local populations and rates of mosquito-borne illness.

The male mosquitoes developed by Oxitec—codenamed species OX5034—are derived from Aedes aegypti, a notorious carrier of many diseases, including Zika, dengue, and yellow fever. When these mosquitoes mate with the native females in an area, they’re said to produce female larvae that simply die off before reaching adulthood, thus dooming the population as a whole. And because only female mosquitoes bite and suck blood from humans, the modified insects are thought to pose no danger to people.

Last year, following approval from the EPA and local authorities, Oxitec launched a pilot program to release millions of these mosquitoes in select areas of Florida, in collaboration with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. On Wednesday, Oxitec said that the EPA had issued an approval for the Florida program to continue, as well as approval for a new program in California. The EPA’s decision allows for more than 2 billion mosquitoes to be released across the two states.

“Our team is immensely proud to have received yet another milestone approval from the EPA. This expansion of our U.S. efforts reflects the strong partnerships we’ve developed with a large and diverse range of stakeholders at the local, state and national levels,” said Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec, in a statement from the company.

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Cleared for Release in California and Florida

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Cleared for Release in California and Florida
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