The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a scheme that will see the release of genetically modified mosquitos which are infected with a deadly strain of bacteria throughout twenty US states and Washington DC. The operation is a bid to control the insects in the United States and, more importantly, the diseases that they spread.
EPA PLANS TO RELEASE DISEASED MOSQUITOES INTO THE WILD
Over the years, the United States has struggled in vain to control the mosquito population throughout the country using pesticides and other smaller scale experiments involving infected insects. In the wake of the spread of the dangerous Zika virus which has been found to cause major defects in new born babies, the need to develop an overarching solution to stamp out the problems caused by mosquitos has become more acute and it is hoped that this latest endeavor will be successful. The company which developed the mosquitoes is named MosquitoMate and is comprised of researchers from the nearby University of Kentucky in Lexington. Recently, the EPA granted the company a five-year license which will allow them to sell their infected mosquitos across twenty states and Washington DC.
The genetically modified mosquitos, which the team has named the Asian Tiger mosquito, are albopictus mosquitoes infected with a bug killing bacteria called Wolbachia. All of the mosquitos which will be released are male, and it is hoped that they will organically mate with females in the wild and destroyed their fertilized eggs with their bacterial-induced defects. Stephen Dobson, who works as an entomologist at the University of Kentucky and is also one of the founders of MosquitoMate has assured the public that other non-dangerous forms of mosquito and other insects will not be harmed by the release of this pathogen into the ecosystem. According to Dobson, his company will begin to sell the infected mosquitoes in Lexington, to begin with, so that they can monitor the success or failure of their plan at close quarters. Following this initial operation, the company hopes to begin releasing the infected mosquitoes into the wild throughout the states where they have been given authorization to ply their product.