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First Genetically Engineered mosquitoes released in the USA

First Genetically Engineered mosquitoes released in the USA

Context:

The Biotechnology firm ‘Oxitec’ has recently launched the first field test of Genetically Modified mosquitoes in Florida in the U.S.A.

Details:

  • The aim of the project is to suppress disease-carrying, wild mosquito populations in the area.
  • The modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have also been released in the Cayman Islands, Panama, Brazil and Malaysia where the population of the disease-carrying agents fell by 90%.
  • The engineered mosquitoes carry a lethal gene that is passed on to their offspring when the modified male mosquitoes mate with the wild female mosquitoes and prevent the female offspring from building an essential protein causing them to die before reaching maturity.
  • The proteins do not affect the survival of the male offspring.
  • As only the female mosquitoes bite people and male mosquitoes drink nectar exclusively, thereby preventing the spread of diseases to humans.
  • The modified mosquitoes were released upon approval from Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The first release will be used as a trial and data collected in the first case will be used in running a second trial with nearly 20 million mosquitoes in the later part of 2021.

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