OXFORD, United Kingdom, Friday August 5, 2016 – The genetically modified mosquitoes that have been recruited in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya have been looked at with suspicion, with concern that there could be harmful effects associated with their use.
But the US Food and Drug Administration’s Centre for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM) has found that the field trial of Oxitec’s genetically engineered mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida, won’t have any significant impact on the environment.
Oxitec’s Chief Executive Officer Hadyn Parry obviously welcomed the finding.
“We’ve been developing this approach for many years, and from these results we are convinced that our solution is both highly effective and has sound environmental credentials,” he said.
“We are now looking forward to working with the community in the Florida Keys moving forward.”
The purpose of the proposed field trial is to determine the efficacy of Oxitec’s self-limiting mosquitoes for the control of the local population of Aedes aegypti in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida.
The mosquitoes have been genetically engineered so that their offspring die before reaching adulthood. Male Oxitec mosquitoes, which do not bite or spread disease, are released to mate with wild female Aedes aegypti so that their offspring die, reducing the population.
Efficacy trials in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands have tested this approach, and in each of these trials the population of Aedes aegypti was reduced by more than 90 per cent.
The FDA led an extensive review of evidence from trials in urban environments performed in Brazil and the Cayman Islands since 2009, and data from numerous safety studies, site inspections and independent experts.