An experimental test to reduce the mosquito population in Brazil by deliberately releasing 450,000 genetically modified mosquitoes has failed miserably and may even have created a genetic hybrid super species.
Oxitec, a British biotechnology company, conducted a 27-month experiment in 2013. Jacobina, Brazil, aimed at reducing the local mosquito population by 90 percent while preserving the genetic integrity of the local insect population.
The overall objective was to limit the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and zika by eliminating half a million mosquitoes OX513A. Insects are a genetically modified version of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which combines a breed from Mexico with a breed from Cuba.
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"The assertion was that the genes from the release strain will not enter the general population because the offspring will die," says ecologist and evolutionary biologist Jeffrey Powell, who conducted a recent study of the efficacy and success of the test against GM mosquitoes. "Obviously this has not happened." poorly reproduced anyway. These forecasts were wrong. Very wrong.
Everywhere, 10 to 60 percent of mosquitoes analyzed by Powell and his team contain genomes tainted by OX513A, Although the scheme apparently worked initially, with a drastic reduction in population, it would later completely reverse the 18-month mark, returning mosquitoes in the area to pre-release levels.
It turns out that the female population has decided not to mate with the weaker, genetically modified mosquitoes in a phenomenon known as 'mating discrimination', according to Powell and his team.  Some genetically modified mosquitoes have even shown signs of a "hybrid force" in which the artificial introduced genetic diversity has actually made mosquitoes stronger and more resistant, with the potential for increased resistance to insecticides, Powell and Powers warn.
However, an Oxitec spokesman claims that the study contains "numerous false, speculative and unjustified Oxitec mosquito technology claims" claiming instead, in a three-page document, that the document did not identify "the adverse, harmful or unintended effects on humans or the environment of the release of OX513A mosquitoes."
Oxitec also disputes the claim for "pair discrimination " saying that there had never been an exemption from the approximately one billion Oxitec male mosquitoes released worldwide.
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