Florida politicians urge use of Intrexon
GM mosquitoes for Zika
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[September 08, 2016]
(Reuters) - Intrexon Corp said on
Wednesday a bipartisan coalition of Florida politicians had urged the
U.S. government to step up efforts to fight Zika, including sanctioning
the emergency use of the company's genetically engineered mosquitoes.
The Florida House members, led by Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran and
Democratic leader-designate Janet Cruz, have written to the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, seeking permission for the
state and local governments to use the GM mosquito, the company said.
No vaccine or treatment has been approved for Zika.
The virus, first detected in Brazil last year, has rapidly spread across
the Americas and parts of Asia.
In recent weeks, U.S. authorities determined that local mosquitoes were
transmitting Zika in an area of south Florida. The U.S. territory of
Puerto Rico has also experienced a widespread outbreak.
U.S. health regulators cleared the way last month for a trial in Key
Haven, Florida to assess the effectiveness of Intrexon's GM mosquitoes
to reduce levels of the aedes aegypti mosquito population, which is
known to carry Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
There is vote scheduled in November seeking community approval for the
trial, as the use of Intrexon's mosquitoes have raised concerns among
the locals about its safety.
In the letter, the politicians said that delaying Florida's access to
Intrexon's technology posed "an unnecessary health risk" to the people
of Florida, the company said.
The mosquitoes are genetically altered so their offspring die before
they can reproduce.
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Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in
Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File
Trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands have shown that the
GM mosquitoes can reduce localized Aedes aegypti populations by more
than 90 percent. (http://bit.ly/1McvLMg)
The GM mosquito strain is made by Oxitec, an Oxford University
spin-off company that is now a UK subsidiary of U.S.-based Intrexon.
While most people experience mild symptoms, Zika infections in
pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly, a severe birth
defect in which the head and brain are undersized. In adults, it can
cause a rare neurological syndrome called Guillain-Barre.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr and
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