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500 Million Gene-hacked Mosquitoes Released in Florida


FLORIDA KEYS — Biotech company Oxitec will this week begin controversially releasing half a billion “gene-hacked” mosquitoes along the Florida Keys in an experiment designed to kill off the islands’ pest population, according to Futurism.

The experiment will target the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, which makes up between 2 percent and 4 percent of the mosquito population in the area, but is associated with almost all cases of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue and Zika.

According to a statement released on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, scientists have inserted a gene called OX5034 exclusively into male mosquitoes, which don’t bite humans. They say the males will breed with wild females, which do.

The OX5034 gene kills off female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes before they enter adulthood and therefore steadily reduces the overall population.

The move comes as mosquitoes native to Florida are increasingly resistant to existing insecticide controls, Undark reports. However, the experiment has caused controversy across the Florida Keys area, with Futurism reporting many residents concerned with a lack of transparency.

SOURCES: Undark, Futurism, The Conversation

First GMO Mosquitoes to Be Released In the Florida Keys


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