GMOs Created to Combat Zika Virus


In recent months, you have heard various news regarding GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, and a number of concerns about Zika virus – an illness spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Rarely, are these two topics spoken of simultaneously, but that may soon change.

zikaAccording to ABC News, the Zika virus has infected people in over 30 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean regions, including Puerto Rico, with over 800 infected victims of the virus.

While no cases of Zika virus have been reported in the US, aside from travel-related cases, more are expected to arise soon due to warmer weather and the fast-growing outbreak in surrounding regions.


Oxitec, a British-based biotech company that focuses on disease-carrying insect control, has officially created genetically modified male mosquitoes to assist in fighting off the Zika virus disease.

The goal is to have the genetically modified male mosquitoes breed with wild female mosquitoes, thus passing on the genetic modification to the young. The reproduced mosquitoes from the wild female and modified male are programmed to perish prior to reaching adulthood. This will stop the infected Andes organisms from reproducing and spreading the virus further.

While the United States FDA has not yet approved the release of the modified mosquitoes, the process has already been utilized in some regions to control the Zika outbreak, including Brazil and the Cayman Islands. In these areas, it has been reported that the Aedes mosquito population has decreased by 90% due to the usage of genetically modified mosquitoes.

Some Americans are hesitant to accept the idea of using the genetically modified mosquitoes due to fear of unpredictable outcomes on the environment; however the FDA investigated this issue and concluded that there should be no significant impact.

CEO of Oxitec, Hadyn Parry, hopes that the United States FDA acts quickly with its decision to move forward in utilizing genetically modified mosquitoes.

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