Defining and Understanding the Genetically Modified Mosquito

Authors: John Bandzuh*, Florida State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Medical and Health Geography, Environment
Keywords: mosquito control, genetic modification, disease prevention
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Lafayette, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mosquito control is an essential practice to reduce cases of vector-borne diseases around the world. Prevention of mosquito-borne diseases has focused on avoidance for centuries (e.g., bed nets, repellents, screens, apparel). Historically, mosquito control was the work and responsibility of governments and agencies with a top-down structure until recent decades, which has given way to community-based approaches involving the public. Alternative techniques to traditional control practices have recently gained traction, such as genetically modified mosquitoes (GMMs). The biotechnology company, Oxitec, has pushed beyond the sterile insect technique, introducing an altered mosquito known as “Friendly Aedes” using RIDL. This “self-limiting” mosquito is intended to help suppress the natural mosquito population upon release and pose no long-term ecological effects. Oxitec has conducted open field trials of the “Friendly Aedes” in Panama, India, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands with a U.S. trial in progress. The U.S. regulatory process has viewed “Friendly Aedes” as both a drug and a pesticide, shifting the oversight from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency (respectively). Once completed, Oxitec will proceed with the release of GMMs in Florida. The scope of this work is multifaceted. This work aims to examine the definition of the “Friendly Aedes” in U.S. regulatory process. Further, the use of “Friendly Aedes” where GMMs have been used outside of trials will be investigated using qualitative methods, particularly ethnography, relating to human behavior and perceptions.

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