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British Company Designing Genetically Modified Mosquito To Fight Dengue

NPR’s All Things Considered on Tuesday examined the efforts of the British company Oxitec to develop a genetically modified mosquito meant to wipe out wild populations of the insects, which carry potentially lethal diseases such as dengue.

Genetically modified male mosquitoes are released into the wild to breed with females, and their offspring are designed to die. “Field trials in the Cayman Islands last year appeared to show it works. Oxitec released its genetically modified males, and, [Oxitec Chief Scientific Officer Luke] Alphey says, the population dropped by a whopping 80 percent,” NPR reports. However, some are opposed to the possible unintended consequences of releasing genetically modified insects into the wild, and regulators worldwide “are struggling to come up with rules and safeguards,” according to NPR (Brumfiel, 7/5).

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