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Genetically modified mosquitoes landed in Keys. Here’s what you need to know

More than 20 million genetically modified mosquitoes are coming to Florida Keys this year in a landmark project by the British biotech company Oxitec ր Monroe County Mosquito Control District.

This method of fighting mosquitoes has not been used in the United States before. It’s a pilot project, և The first trial started last week.

The program aims to reduce the population of invasive people Aedes aegypti:, which carries diseases like Zika. This is the first time in the country that the US Environmental Protection Agency has issued an “experimental permit” for this method.

Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Department, said they were watching their “toolbox” shrink due to bug resistance to insecticides. Dengue was diagnosed in Keys last year, the first since 2010. That’s when Mosquito Control started working with Oxitec.

“Deng was something we were worried about in other areas,” Leal said. “Once it came to our doorstep, we saw other diseases. Deng for us last year and ika ika in Miami-Dade. That’s really why we’re looking at these new mosquito repellent tools. “

Here are some questions and answers about the GMO mosquito project in the keys.

What are GMO mosquitoes?

Genetically modified mosquitoes, in this case the non-biting male Aedes aegypti: species, created in the laboratory by a British biotechnology company OxitecIt is assumed that after release, they should mate with females in the wild. aThe “elf-limiting” gene prevents the biting female offspring from surviving.

What will mosquitoes do?

GMO male mosquitoes are thought to reduce or control the number of disturbed populations Aedes aegypti: species by Oxitec և Florida Keys mosquito control area.

They will do it through mating. But their female offspring will not survive, says Oxitec.

Oxitec says the “death mechanism” developed in mosquitoes is designed to ensure that no viable female offspring will emerge. Male offspring will pass on the “self-limiting gene” in the middle of their offspring. Mosquitoes are the only ones that bite and feed on humans.

During the first test of the program, the females will die after the male’s female eggs hatch.

“Males will survive,” said Nathan Rose, Oxitec’s chief executive officer. “They carry the gene, but it does not kill them. They can pass on their genes. Only female offspring will die. ”

In: Aedes aegypti: Mosquitoes make up 4% of the mosquito population in Keys. But it is responsible for the spread of virtually all diseases, according to the mosquito control period.

This week, as part of Oxitec և Florida Keys Mosquito Control Pilot, mosquito eggs, food և water boxes were installed in the Lower Keys. Genetically modified male mosquitoes will appear in an attempt to reduce the population of the infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.

This week, as part of Oxitec և Florida Keys Mosquito Control Pilot, mosquito eggs, food և water boxes were installed in the Lower Keys. Genetically modified male mosquitoes will appear in an attempt to reduce the population of the infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Where are the mosquitoes released?

So far, eggs, food and water boxes have been placed in six locations, in all private areas, in the Lower և Middle keys. Two are on the Cudjoe Key, one on the Ramrod Key and three on the Vaca Key.

According to Oxitec, there will be about 12,000 mosquitoes a week throughout the area.

Has this been done before?

Not about mosquitoes in the US.

For the first time, the US Environmental Protection Agency is issuing an “experimental permit” for this special mosquito repellent method.

But the technology was made in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2019. Oxitec called it a success, saying it suppressed treatment by up to 95 percent in 13 weeks. Aedes aegypti.

However, these figures may be exaggerated. The emails from the group of activists revealed that the majority of one government newspaper, which announced a 62% pressure level, wrote Oxitec.

Oxitec has used the same technology in the United States for the pink clown ց diamond moth, which is a crop pest.

How long will it take to test GMO mosquitoes? What’s next?

The first trial, which began in the week of April 26, will take about 12 weeks, Oxitec said. The second phase will produce about 20 million mosquitoes.

Mosquito releases are expected to be completed within one mosquito season by the end of the year, Oxitec says. The second phase will probably not start before mid-June, but it may be later.

Are there any health risks for humans?

Oxitec says there are no health risks.

“Oxitec mosquitoes have been determined to be safe և people միջավայր do not pose a threat to the environment by many regulators, including the EPA and the FDA in the United States, as well as in Brazil, where we have had many successful field demonstrations.” : said Meredith Fensom, the company’s head of global public affairs.

Oxitec male mosquitoes do not bite և they will have no effect on homes or property. “Because our mosquitoes are safe, non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-biting, self-limiting, there is no risk from them.”

Some Kiz residents do not go to the company line. They say there are too many questions about how mosquitoes are released to affect the environment.

But last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to extend Oxitec in Florida until 2022. The Florida Department of Agriculture և Consumer Services upheld the Keys trial in June.

The five-member Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board voted 4-1 on Aug. 4. The majority of board members mentioned conditional targeting methods Aedes aegypti: gradually became less effective.

There are problems with Zika or dengue in Keys.

The cats had problems with mosquito-borne disease.

Aedes aegypti: Mosquitoes carry and spread ika ika, yellow fever և chikungunya. In recent years, the Florida Keys have reported Zika cases involving dengue travel locally.

“Mosquito control bodies are working hard to reduce it Aedes aegypti: “However, this species is difficult to control with existing tools, so the authorities are looking for new, safer and more effective ways to keep the mosquito population at a low level,” said Meritit Fensom, Oxitec Global Public Affairs Officer.

Dengue was diagnosed in Keys last year, the first since 2010.

Will traditional mosquito control continue?

Even during the test, the fight against regular mosquitoes continues.

“Normal mosquito repellent will continue,” said Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Mosquito Control Department. “It simply came to our notice then Aedes aegypti: The population is shrinking, for which we will not have to use special control measures Aedes aegypti:»

Where do I go if I have more questions?

Visit keysmosquitoproject.com to learn more about the project. You can also email [email protected] or [email protected] or call 888-308-1859. Oxitec has hosted 13 webinars on the project, which are available on the company’s website.

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