Sunday, 7 August 2016

Millions of GM mosquitoes could be released in Florida to combat Zika virus

Sarah Knapton, science editor 
3 AUGUST 2016 • 6:57PM

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released into the state of Florida to combat Zika virus after 15 people caught the disease from local insects.

Congress could decide within weeks to grant an emergency licence to British biotech company Oxitec, which has engineered a line of insects whose offspring are unable to grow to adulthood, and so cannot reproduce.

The company has already build a lab in the Florida Keys and is just waiting for the green light from the government and health officials.

Trials in the Cayman Islands and Brazil have already shown the technique can wipe out up to 96 per cent of dangerous aedes aegypti mosquito and Oxitec believe that the technique could eventually eliminate diseases like Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fever.

Oxitec Chief Executive Hadyn Parry who attended a recent Congress hearing and called for emergency use, said they were expecting a decision soon.  

“The Zika threat is here and now and there is now local transmission in Florida so that is why I urged Congress to seriously consider emergency use,” he said.


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