The EPA has authorised the discharge of weaponized mosquitoes in 20 US states — Quartz


The US Environmental Protection Agency has given its approval for MosquitoMate, a Kentucky-based biotechnology firm, to launch its bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in a number of elements of the United States.

The EPA approval was first reported by Nature on Monday (Nov. 6), and confirmed by the corporate. The EPA didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from Quartz.

The firm’s lab-grown mosquitoes, which it calls ZAP males, are contaminated with the Wolbachia micro organism, naturally occurring in lots of bugs, however not in Aedes aegypti, a vector for viruses similar to yellow fever, dengue and Zika. When bacteria-infected males mate with uninfected females, the females produce eggs that don’t hatch. In addition, contaminated mosquitoes are much less prone to unfold illness.

According to Gizmodo, the EPA on Nov. three registered MosquitoMate’s mosquito as a biopesticide, with a five-year license to promote in 20 completely different states. Entomologist Stephen Dobson, CEO of MosquitoMate, instructed Gizmodo that the corporate might begin promoting the contaminated mosquitoes subsequent summer season by way of contracts with authorities our bodies and direct to householders, starting with Lexington, Ky. and increasing to close by areas like Nashville, Tenn. Quartz reached out to MosquitoMate for remark, and can replace after we hear again.

The permitted states embrace principally these comparable climate situations to Kentucky, New York, and California, states the place the corporate earlier performed trials—in addition to Washington DC. In April, the corporate started a 12-week area trial that concerned releasing 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Stock Island, within the Florida Keys. The male mosquitoes don’t chunk, which ought to make the discharge of those bugs sound much less alarming.

Other nations have been utilizing lab-produced mosquitoes to scale back their populations. In China’s southern metropolis of Guangzhou, scientists used an identical methodology to regulate the bugs’ inhabitants by constructing a mosquito manufacturing unit that produced thousands and thousands of Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes final yr. Brazil has used the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in its marketing campaign in opposition to the Zika virus.

Brazil has additionally tried the usage of a distinct sort of lab mosquito, one that’s genetically modified, which has confronted resistance within the US.

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