Male mosquitoes (they do not bite. They feed on nectar, not blood) from Oxitec will emerge from release boxes placed in six locations in the Florida Keys to mate with local female mosquitoes (they do bite. They do feed on blood). The female offspring from these encounters cannot survive, and the Aedes aegypti population will be controlled in this way.. The Aedes aegypti mosquito makes up about four percent of the mosquito population in the Keys.
The project has the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the collaboration of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD). In 2021, the United States expects the release of 750 million transgenic mosquitoes.
“An important part of the FKMCD’s mission is to protect residents of the Florida Keys from the disease-transmitting mosquito, Aedes aegypti. As we are seeing the development of resistance to some of our current control methods, we need new tools to fight this mosquito. And given the unique ecosystem we live in, those tools must be safe, environmentally friendly and specific. That is why we collaborate with Oxitec on this project. With the full approval of the US EPA and from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and with the support of the US Centers for Disease Control and an independent advisory board, we are pleased to announce that this project will be underway soon, ”says Andrea Leal, executive director of the FKMCD.
This technology has already been successfully tested in other parts of the globe. According to Oxitec, in the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, the genetically modified mosquito by the company backed by Bill Gates was seen to suppress Aedes aegypti by up to 95% in urban environments prone to dengue after only 13 weeks of treatment, compared to the untreated control sites in the same city. A year later, CNTBio, the Brazilian country’s biosafety regulatory authority, fully approved this type of technology.
Aedes aegypti does not persist in the environment or cause harm to beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies.
“We are immensely grateful for the FKMCD’s continued collaboration and for the strong public support this project has received from residents of the Florida Keys. It is truly a public-private partnership driven by support for new and environmentally sustainable solutions to combat disease-transmitting mosquitoes“stated Oxitec CEO Gray Frandsen.