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  • An Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever and Zika virus.

    An Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever and Zika virus. | Photo: EFE

Published 17 June 2020
Opinion

Millions of these insects will be released to validate an experiment to reduce diseases.

A horde of 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in Florida, this State's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services informed on Wednesday.

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The state of Florida issued an Experimental Use Permit after The United States Environmental Protection Agency gave the green light to the pilot project in May.

A special genetically modified version of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will be set free to validate an experiment conducted by Oxitec, a British biotechnology company.

The mosquitoes were inoculated with a protein which will lessen females' chances of survival. According to Oxitec, this could reduce the spreading of diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, and Zika.

“There is broad consensus amongst public health officials in the U.S. that a new generation of safe, targeted, and cost-effective vector control tools are needed urgently to combat the growing threat posed by Aedes aegypti, without impacting the ecosystem,” Oxitec CEO Grey Frandsen said.

The experiment also seeks to reduce the use of insecticides and consequently minimize their negative impact.

“We’re pleased that the EPA and Florida state regulators have, after extensive scientific reviews, approved our demonstration trials and we look forward to continuing the collaboration with our local partners as they take up the matter,” Frandsen added.

Oxitec previously applied this experiment in the City of Indaiatuba, Brazil, where after just 13 weeks of treatment nearly 95 percent of the Aedes aegypti mosquito population was knocked out.

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