Lawn & Garden
Genetically modified mosquitoes are one of many new tools that could help with the control of mosquito populations and prevent the species’ continued spread of disease. This tool will provide necessary solutions to break through insecticide resistance and control options in areas that are hard-to-reach using conventional methods.
The release of genetically modified male mosquitoes to reduce the survival of the species’ field populations was done with the best interests of the environment, wildlife and human health in mind. Pilot projects were conducted in select areas of the Florida Keys by University of Florida scientists at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. Read more about the genetically modified mosquito release program.
The University of Florida publication documents the experiments that are a collaboration between the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and the biotechnology company—Oxitec—founded in the United Kingdom out of Oxford University, and permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It provides information about successful experiments with this technology, including the 2012 release of genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitos in one city in Brazil. The 2012 release resulted in a 95 percent reduction of the mosquito populations in that city. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is considered a major threat to human health in many areas of the world. It is a biting pest that is responsible for transmitting dengue, chikungunha, yellow fever, and Zika viruses to humans.
An initial launch of one the pilot projects was conducted in Florida in the spring of 2021.
This publication is designed to help inform the public. It will also address public concerns, as well as frequently asked questions about genetically modified mosquitoes. It highlights the purpose and expected outcomes of their experimental use in the fight against mosquito-transmitted disease, clarifies the basic science of the projects, and provides readers with additional resources.
Featured image by David Cappaert, Bugwood.org.