(Zero Hedge) The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just cleared MosquitoMate, Inc., a Lexington, KY based biotechnology company, focused on mosquito control deficiencies, invasive mosquito species, and important vectors of human diseases, to release it’s bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington DC.
First released on Nature.com,
On 3 November, the agency told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations.
The decision – which the EPA has not formally announced – allows the company, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky, to release the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington DC.
The University of Kentucky explains their roll in fostering the science behind MosquitoMate, along with the understanding of how this technology works.
According to David O’Brochta, an entomologist at the University of Maryland in Rockville, “It’s a non-chemical way of dealing with mosquitoes, so from that perspective, you’d think it would have a lot of appeal. I’m glad to see it pushed forward, as I think it could be potentially really important.”
The company’s lab-grown mosquitoes, which it calls ZAP males, are a non-biting, male Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito) that carries a bacterium called Wolbachia. As explained on the company’s website, Wolbachia “is common throughout insects worldwide, with scientists estimating that over half of all insects naturally carry the infection”. When bacteria-infected males mate with unaffected females, it causes the females to become sterile…