Oxitec claims that they have reduced mosquito populations during trials in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands, by up to 90%. Fusion reports have called this “an unprecedented level” of human control over nature.
On Friday, the FDA released an assessment on the project, stating that they have found that it “will not have significant impacts on the environment.”
A survey conducted in June found that most residents oppose the idea of using genetically-modified mosquitoes, but Oxitec hopes that the FDA’s findings will help to win them over. Respondents to the survey who were neutral or supportive of the GMO insects cited a desire to avoid using pesticides.
There are currently 157 pregnant women in the United States who have tested positive for the Zika virus, which causes microcephaly and other birth defects
Several companies are currently working on a vaccine for the virus, but aren’t expected to be ready until 2017 at the earliest.