Brazil releases GMO mosquitoes

RIO DE JANEIRO. – Brazilian scientists on Thursday released a new batch of genetically-modified mosquitoes in its fight against diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) launched a new stage in the fight against dengue fever in Rio de Janeiro by releasing specimens of the aedes aegypti mosquito with the Wolbachia bacterium.

The bacterium works by interfering with the mosquito’s reproductive capacity, so scientists hope the strategy will eventually eradicate them and the diseases they spread.

Head researcher Luciano Moreira said scientists won’t be able to gauge the effectiveness of the plan for another three to five years. He added residents cannot rely solely on such methods to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

“People must be aware that they have to do their part. It’s really important. Taking care of their yards, eliminating breeding sites, not leaving containers or vessels with water for mosquitoes to breed,” said Moreira.

Scientists plan to gradually expand the area of release, with an initial 10 neighbourhoods targeted. By the end of 2018, some 2 million altered mosquitoes are expected to be released. – Xinhua

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