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Crop Biotech Update

Florida Board Allows First GM Mosquito Trials in the US

August 26, 2020

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) gave its final approval for the conduct of Oxitec's GM mosquito demonstration project in Florida Keys. This will be the first test for the GM mosquito in the United States.

The approval came after an exhaustive regulatory assessment of technical, science-based documents and studies, which found that Oxitec's technology did not pose any risk to humans animals or the environment, including endangered species. The project will be collaboratively overseen by Oxitec and the FKMCD, who is also set to conduct extensive community outreach in and around the trial locations. The US CDC and the University of Florida will also conduct their independent evaluation during the testing.

The trial aims to determine the effectiveness in controlling the wild mosquito population, particularly of the Aedes aegypti species. Its female is the known carrier of Zika, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, and Dengue diseases. The GM mosquitoes to be tested are males that are intended to mate with their wild female counterparts. These are expected to produce only male offspring with the modified trait. This mating cycle of male GM mosquitoes with the female wild counterpart through generations is expected to drive down the overall mosquito population.

The trials are expected to commence anytime in 2021 and will have to be completed by 2022. The trial site in Florida is also yet to be determined.

More details are available in FKMCD and Oxitec.

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