United States: 144,000 genetically modified mosquitoes to be released in Florida

Faced with the spread of diseases such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever, the USA has decided to test a new method which, the authorities wish, will make it possible to reduce the population of mosquitoes responsible for these diseases. Aedes aegypti is the target of US health authorities, more specifically in Florida. Known for its mild climate favorable to the proliferation of insects and other pests.

The recent spread of Zika’s disease must have something to do with it. US health authorities will release genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild which will aim to reduce the population informs the chain NBC News. These mosquitoes have been genetically modified not to bite humans, but also to mate with biting females and breed other mosquitoes that will not survive.

With this process, the new generation of mosquitoes born from the two above-mentioned will not survive long, ultimately reducing the population drastically, according to scientists. «As we see the development of resistance to some of our current control methods, we need new tools to fight this mosquito.» asserted Andrea Leal, one of the scientists in charge of the project. This method had already been proven in Brazil, where there was indeed a reduction in the number of mosquitoes in the city of Piracicaba.

An effective method

After years of planning, the project has been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an advisory board of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (the Florida government department for agriculture and consumers).

The method has already been proven a few years ago, when the Zika virus, present in Asia and Africa, began to spread on the American continent. Before Florida, the company Oxitec launched in 2016, a similar experiment, but on a small scale, in the city of Piracicaba in Brazil. The results showed that genetically modified mosquitoes reduced Aedes aegypti mosquito populations by 80%.

It is also not the first time that the authorities of this American state have authorized new methods to eradicate this species of mosquito. Male mosquitoes carrying a bacteria called Wolbachia, which made their offspring non-viable, had been released in Key West in 2017 and then in Miami in 2018.

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