With the Olympic games under way in Zika-ravaged Brazil and the United States' first locally transmitted Zika cases now confirmed, a biotechnology company is looking to take a bite out of the Zika crisis — by deploying armies of genetically modified mosquitoes.
Oxitec, the British subsidiary of Germantown, Maryland-based Intrexon, received a green light from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to release the GMO mosquitoes as part of an investigational field trial in Key Haven in the Florida Keys. Residents of Key Haven will vote on the trial in a nonbinding referendum scheduled for November, with final approval to reside with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board.
"It couldn't have come at a better time," Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry told reporters Friday.
While the company is glad it got the regulatory green light, Florida locals are concerned there may be risks to the human population.
Friday's FDA ruling, known as a Final Finding of No Significant Impact and Final Environmental Assessment (FONSI), deemed that any toxic or allergenic effects in humans caused by the GMO mosquitoes would likely be negligible.