Can Engineered Mosquitoes Eliminate Dengue? : The New YorkerPosted: July 2, 2012
The field trial, which began a year ago, is a collaboration between Moscamed, Oxitec, and the University of São Paulo. Preliminary results have been impressive: the group recently collected a sample of eggs in two neighborhoods where the engineered mosquitoes had been released, and found that eighty-five per cent of them were genetically modified. Despite the experiment’s scientific promise, many people regard the tiny insect as a harbinger of a world where animals are built by nameless scientists, nurtured in beakers, then set loose—with consequences, no matter how noble the intention, that are impossible to anticipate or control. Mentions Luke Alphey. In 2009, Key West, Florida, suffered its first dengue outbreak in seventy-three years. Michael S. Doyle, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District’s executive director, invited Oxitec’s founder, Luke Alphey, and its chief executive, Hadyn Parry, to explain their approach at a town meeting. Opponents mobilized within hours of receiving notice of the meeting. The biggest question raised by the creation of OX513A is who will regulate it and how. To the consternation of many, Oxitec recently applied to the F.D.A. for approval of its mosquito.