California and Florida are about to release 2 billion genetically modified mosquitoes

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in Florida and California to combat mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Zika.

Gene-modified mosquitoes should contain the spread of diseases

British biotech company Oxitec has received permission from the US Environmental Protection Agency to release genetically engineered mosquitoes in parts of Florida and California, Gizmodo reports.

A total of 2.4 billion mosquitoes will be released – more than 2 billion in California and just under 400 million in Florida – in two separate periods between 2022 and 2024.

What is it for?
The company will release non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that will be genetically engineered to express the tTAV-OX5034 protein. These mosquitoes are an invasive species in the US. They carry diseases such as Dengue, Zika and Yellow Fever.

According to the plan, the modified mosquitoes will mate with wild mosquitoes, the protein will be transferred and destroy the offspring of females before they reach maturity. Thus, the mosquito population will be reduced, and with it the spread of diseases.

Not everyone likes this approach.
Some critics believe that the distribution of genetically modified mosquitoes is a highly controversial decision. In their opinion, mosquitoes can harm the local ecosystem. They also cite the fact that neither Dengue nor Zika ever met in California or Florida.

On the other hand, Oxitec assures that genetically modified mosquitoes will effectively fight not only the spread of diseases, but also pests. However, they are absolutely harmless to other insects such as bees or butterflies.

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