US Approves GMO Mosquito Test for Fight Against Zika Virus, But No Release Imminent

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is giving final approval for a field trial releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

The FDA said Friday in a statement that after considering thousands of public comments, its Center for Veterinary Medicine concluded the proposal from biotech firm Oxitec would not significantly affect the environment.

No mosquitoes will be released immediately. Keys officials will hold a nonbinding vote on the proposal for residents in November.

Oxitec releases nonbiting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes modified with synthetic DNA to produce offspring that die outside a lab. The method aims to reduce mosquito populations that spread Zika and other viruses.

Brazil and the Cayman Islands are releasing Oxitec's insects. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District wants to test them on an island north of Key West.

On Friday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson stressed the need to continue staying diligent in the fight against Zika. Nelson told the media and mayors from South Florida that, according to what he has been told, the problem is not close to being solved.

Nelson believes that, with the current number of cases being around 7,300 across the country and U.S. territories, there could be close to 28,000 who have been stricken by Zika.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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