Between 2021 and 2022, 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes will be released into the Florida Keys.
The project is designed to test if a genetically modified mosquito is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This breed of mosquitoes carries diseases like Zika, dengue, malaria, and yellow fever.
The mosquito, named OX5034, has been altered to produce female offspring that die in the larval stage, before hatching and growing large enough to bite and spread disease. Only female mosquitoes spread diseases.
The pilot project has received both state and federal approval.
“This is an exciting development because it represents the ground-breaking work of hundreds of passionate people over more than a decade in multiple countries, all of whom want to protect communities from dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and other vector-borne diseases,” Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec the US-owned, British-based company that developed the genetically modified organism (GMO), said in a statement.