Genetically modified mosquitoes created to decrease the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes in the Lower Keys could be released by the spring, officials say.
Scientists from Oxitec, a British company that has released genetically modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Brazil, have built a rearing facility at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District building in Marathon and are awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to import mosquito eggs from the United Kingdom.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved exporting the eggs and Oxitec scientists expect U.S.D.A. approval by December.
If import approval is given, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC will review Oxitec's growing facility and the process of creating genetically modified mosquitoes before trial runs begin.
"The FDA, [Environmental Protection Agency] and CDC are looking at our protocols and methodology," said Derric Nimmo, product development manager with Oxitec. "We're hoping early next year that we'll get approval to start trials."
According to Oxitec's website, the company's genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes control populations by passing genes onto their offspring that cause them to die prematurely. Aedea aegypti mosquitoes can carry the chikungunya and dengue viruses. Both create painful, flu-like symptoms. | KeysNet
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