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Zapping Zika #4: GMO Mosquitos in Puerto Rico?

In an effort to combat mosquito-borne Zika Virus, Oxitec, a UK-based synthetic biology company specializing in infectious vector control, developed a type of "self-limiting" GMO Aedes aegypti mosquito.

This organism has passed regulatory approval in several countries in central and South America, and has since shown significant efficacy in attenuating the population within targeted regions. Brazil has recently begun expanding Oxitec's vector control program, which they started in 2012.

In the US, a proof-of-concept experiment to show efficacy and environmental impact is being conducted in Key Haven, an island in the Florida Keys. An initial FDA report is open to comments until early April.

A previous question concerns whether the FDA will approve expanded use of Oxitec mosquitos for Aedes aegypti population control in the US. The US region most likely to be highly impacted by Zika first is Puerto Rico. Therefore we ask:

Will mosquitos engineered to reduce the Aedes aegypti population be released in Puerto Rico by January 2017?

For positive resolution, the release must be part of an official program, but need not necessarily be Oxitec's mosquitos (though that seems most likely), and be reported by a reliable media or official sources.

Note that this is probably contingent on a positive outcome of the previous question on GMO mosquito regulation, (since the FDA's jurisdiction includes Puerto Rico), but this is not an formal requirement for positive resolution.


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