Wednesday, May 18

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes released in California | Digital Trends Spanish

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the green light to the release of billions of mosquitoes genetically modified males in California and Florida for the next two years.

Mosquitoes belong to the Aedes Aegypti species, better known as the dengue mosquito or yellow fever mosquito. This animal can be a carrier of these and other diseases such as Zika fever, chikungunya or the Malay virus. The project aims to reduce the transmission of these diseases.

Male mosquitoes of this species do not bite humans, but females do. The genetic modification to which the specimens that will be released have been subjected gives them a self-limiting gene, by which they only produce infertile offspring. In this way, when they mate with females, the young—whether male or female—will die shortly after birth.

The company in charge of the project is the British Oxitec, which obtains financing and support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2020, it launched a pilot project with which it released more than 100,000 mosquitoes, a measure that sought to counteract an outbreak of dengue fever in the Florida Keys.

Meredith Fensom, head of global public affairs at Oxitec, points out in a release While the EPA approval covers one county in Florida and four in California, the release is planned to be much more limited, covering only the Florida Keys and Visalia in Tulare County.

Predictably, the project has been rejected by some environmental groups, who are concerned about the possible consequences on the ecosystem of the release of genetically altered insects.

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