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Genetically modified mosquitoes: don’t chew, no harm

Oxitec says GM mosquitoes are safe for humans and the environment in which they are released.

Florida, USA — Almost everyone has been bitten by a mosquito before.by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), There are 200 kinds of mosquitoes inhabiting the United States, and about 12 kinds of mosquitoes spread pathogens and get sick.

Recently on Twitter, some people claim: government, together Bill GatesReleased “Genetically Modified Mosquitoes” and announced that they may have been bitten by mosquitoes. Bruise It is significantly worse than the previous year.

question

Are there genetically modified mosquitoes?

Source of information

answer

Yes, there are genetically modified mosquitoes, but they are not harmful to humans. In fact, experts say they don’t bite at all. Genetically modified mosquitoes were created to fight the mosquitoes that spread the disease.

What we found

In 2021 Oxitec, A biotechnology company that develops genetically modified insects that safely and sustainably control pests that spread disease, damage crops and harm livestock around the world. Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) To assess the effectiveness of Oxytech mosquitoes in combating Aedes aegypti, which is endemic in the Florida Keys.

Aedes aegypti usually inhabits tropical and subtropical climates. CDC.. Aedes aegypti is more likely to spread viruses such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya than other types of mosquitoes because Aedes aegypti lives nearby and prefers to eat.

Dr. Floyd Shockley, Collection Manager, Insects Department, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said: “Most human-feeding mosquitoes tend to fly at night, but Aedes aegypti flies during the day. In fact, mosquitoes are usually encountered when hiking.”

Dr. Nathan Rose, Oxitec’s Head of Regulatory, said VERIFY produces transgenic male mosquitoes that target wild Aedes aegypti because wild Aedes aegypti is a major vector of viral diseases. increase.

“It’s important to note that there are probably about 35,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, but only 30 or 40 of them actually carry the disease, and we are one of those species. It’s just for you, “says Dr. Rose. “This mosquito shouldn’t be in North or South America — it’s from Central Africa. It traveled across the Atlantic hundreds of years ago. In the United States, this mosquito isn’t just Florida, it’s actually Is found throughout the South America. It is found in Texas, Gulf countries, Louisiana, etc. In California. “

According to Rose, Oxytech’s genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Panama and Malaysia for over a decade. He states that Oxitec has been invited to a project in the Florida Keys due to two dengue fever outbreaks in the area over the past few years.

“Brazil has probably released about a billion of these mosquitoes in the last decade, which is very effective in actually reducing the population of local mosquitoes of this particular species,” Rose said. I am. “The Florida project is the first to release these mosquitoes in the United States. This is a very small project and is as effective as mosquitoes have already seen elsewhere in the United States. The purpose is to demonstrate that it works. ”

Rose says that Oxytech’s genetically modified mosquitoes are male and cannot bite people. He also explained how male mosquitoes in the company fight from wild female Aedes aegypti spreading the disease to humans.

“It is a basic fact of mosquito biology that only females chew and males do not. And we only release male mosquitoes. These are humans and the environment in which they are released. It’s safe for you, “Rose said.

“what [genetically modified mosquitoes] They go to find wild female mosquitoes, mate with them, and pass on the two genes to their offspring. One of these two genes, one of which we call a “self-limiting gene,” kills all female offspring and allows only male offspring to survive. ” Rose continued. “And the second gene of these mosquitoes is just a fluorescent gene. The mosquitoes fluoresce, which helps identify the mosquitoes. The wild ones are so different that they can be distinguished under a microscope. can.”

Dr. Shockley told VERIFY that Oxytech’s research does not affect other mosquito populations or other insects, only the wild Aedes aegypti female mosquitoes it targets.

“Insect population alterations have been around for a long time and are now being used more effectively by genetically modifying genes,” says Shockley. “This does not affect other mosquitoes. It does not affect other insects. It only affects the species to be modified.”

According to the website Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD)-Oxitec Mosquito Project Approved by eight Florida state agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CDC, and the Department of Health.

The project is wholly owned by Oxytech, not local, state, federal, or Bill Gates, Rose said.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded some of the other research on other mosquito species. They have asked us to work on two different species that infect malaria in Africa and the Caribbean. It’s funding, but it has nothing to do with the work that’s happening in Florida, “Rose said. “Mosquitoes are one of the largest murderers in the world. If there is an effective way to get rid of mosquitoes, there is an effective way to prevent the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. That is our focus.”

Other articles on VERIFY: No, the hippopotamus is not the deadliest animal in the world

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Genetically modified mosquitoes: don’t chew, no harm

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