In a move that public health advocates are calling “irresponsible and frightening,” the U.S. Food and Drug Association on Friday cleared the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida.
Pivoting off of the recent news that there is an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that has infected over a dozen people in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, the UK-based developers of the genetically modified organism (GMO) reportedly also called on the FDA to grant emergency authorization to release the insects in Miami.
Oxitec, which produces other GMO products like “Arctic” apples and “AquaBounty” salmon, has developed what they describe as “self-limiting mosquitoes,” genetically engineered to die before reaching adulthood.
As the company explains, Oxitec has genetically engineered male mosquitoes—known as OX513A males—which it will release into the wild to mate with native female Aedes aegypti, which bite and can potentially spread disease. Their offspring die off, reducing the population.
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