With the increase in the number of cases of Zika virus in Australia and abroad, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved experimenting with genetically engineered mosquitoes in Florida.
These mosquitoes will be released in the local area first to see how effectively they will work against the infection. The FDA approved the proposal on Friday only because it learned that there will be no significant environmental impact on nature.
The scientists developed the genetically engineered mosquitoes a while back but they had to await government nod. Biotech firm Oxitec has been criticized for the approach by local residents who have been questioning it on the basis of information obtained from the Internet. The proposal has not been welcomed by the public. They have created hashtags on Twitter as #buzzoffOxitec and a group on Facebook as “No to GM Mosquitoes in Key Haven.” The groups insisted not to be compelled to support the initiative and allow human experimentation.
The initiative will make sure Zika virus infection is controlled in Australia as well as around the world. These genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes undergo modification so that their offspring dies. This approach will ensure decreasing the population of the species that conduct viral transmission.
Aside from Zika, halted reproduction and reduction of the population of these mosquito species will also help deter the spread of dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. The scientists proposed the release of the male mosquitoes after being genetically modified to disallow them to produce any offspring with their wild female partners. This will help in controlling the Zika virus outbreak all over the world.
Although FDA approved the release of the genetically engineered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys for an experiment, it wanted to get some petitions signed to make sure they were fine with having an experiment. “The company wants to use the Florida Keys as a testing ground for these mutant bugs. This release has not one single peer review,” one of the petitions read, as quoted by Humanosphere.