Scientists Genetically Modify 2 Billion Mosquitoes to Send Them Back Into the World

Scientists Genetically Modify 2 Billion Mosquitoes to Send Them Back Into the World

You might also not be a fan of mosquitoes and of becoming their meal in the morning, regardless of how delicious you might be. But performing some genetic engineering on those little flying and pesky vampires can actually be beneficial. 

Mosquito-borne diseases are nothing to take too lightly. For instance, malaria killed over 600,000 people worldwide in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Therefore, finding even more ways of tackling diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is a ‘must’ in the medical world.

Oxitec will release genetically-modified mosquitoes to Florida and California

As Gizmodo reveals, the biotech firm known as Oxitec is now approved to release 2 billion genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida and California, which were derived from Aedes aegypti, a species that carries a lot of diseases. But surely you’re asking yourself why someone would spend time genetically modifying those annoying insects and even release them back into the world. The explanation is pretty simple.

The modified insects can now produce infertile offspring. This will reduce the rates of illnesses caused by mosquitos. Oxitec has received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do as they please with the insects, meaning to release them to parts of Florida and California.

Grey Frandsen, the CEO of Oxitec, stated as quoted by the company’s website:

Our team is immensely proud to have received yet another milestone approval from the EPA. This expansion of our U.S. efforts reflects the strong partnerships we’ve developed with a large and diverse range of stakeholders at the local, state and national levels.

Although the Aedes aegypti genus of mosquitoes was originally found in tropical and subtropical zones, you have chances of finding it on all continents except for Antarctica, if you somehow enjoy being its meal. The genus was first described and given the name by German entomologist Johann Wilhelm Meigen roughly 200 years ago.


Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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