Sunday, November 29, 2020

Genetically Modified Mosquitos Have Been Approved for a US Test Flight


    Florida Keys officials have decided to allow the first US test to release a genetically-modified male mosquito named OX5034 to fight pests that carry and spread diseases (CNN, 2020). There was controversy in allowing the release of these genetically-modified organisms. However, the need to fight against mosquito-borne diseases (ex. Zika) was more compelling in the end. After January 1, 2021, boxes of bred, nectar-drinking male yellow fever mosquitos will be shipped and set out that will hopefully mate with female mosquitoes and kill some offspring to shrink the swarms (Science News, 2020). The mosquito OX5034 was altered to produce female offspring that die in the larval stage before they grow, bite, and spread disease (CNN, 2020). The Oxitec company who created the genetically-modified mosquito adds the antibiotic tetracycline to water of mosquito larvae in order to keep the female mosquitoes who breed alive (Science News, 2020). One concern of this is the possibly of it encouraging the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, it has been contended that it is unlikely as the EPA requires testing sites at least 500 meters away from sewage plants. This mosquito is also approved for release in Harris County, Texas beginning in 2021 (CNN, 2020).


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