Thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes have begun to be released in Florida this week as part of an effort to combat a disease-spreading species of the insect.

The buzzy project, from British biotech company Oxitec, aims to curb the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can spread diseases such as Zika and dengue fever, The Miami Herald reported.

The project aims to have genetically modified male mosquitoes mate with non-modified females, which are the ones that bite.

A so-called “death mechanism” would then act to prevent any resulting female offspring from surviving.

“The female offspring of these encounters cannot survive, and the population of Aedes aegypti is subsequently controlled,” Oxitec said in a statement.

British biotech company Oxitec hopes to control the population of disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by having them mate with modified male mosquitoes.
British biotech company Oxitec hopes to control the population of disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by having them mate with modified male mosquitoes.
REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File

The modified pests will be placed in six locations in the Florida Keys, with some 12,000 expected to emerge each week for the next 12 weeks.

The project was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Sunshine State and the local mosquito control district’s board, according to the Herald.

A genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquito is seen in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil on October 26, 2016.
A genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquito will be placed in six locations in the Florida Keys.
AFP via Getty Images

But some locals oppose the idea.

Key Largo resident Mara Daly, who has been protesting the project for years, fears that it could harm people and the environment.

British biotech company Oxitec’s project was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Florida and the local mosquito control district’s board, reports say.
British biotech company Oxitec’s project was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Florida and the local mosquito control district’s board, reports say.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Why do they not perform a simple test to satisfy locals who are forced to be part of this project trial?” Daly asked.



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