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Oxitec CEO Seeks Support For Genetically Modified Mosquitos

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry believes his genetically modified mosquitos will slow the spread of Zika. Now he’s calling for public support.

Credit Oxitec /
The Florida Channel

Oxitec’s mosquitos are designed to disrupt the Zika virus, by carrying a special gene that kills offspring before they reproduce. CEO Hadyn Parry says the approach has been successful in Brazil, and he has plans for a Florida trial as well. Parry says insecticides alone won’t stop Zika.

“If you imagine this hotel. If this hotel contained five female aedes aegypti, and I send any of you out with a bug spray and ask you to kill those five, you won’t find them. Release five males, and they’ll be there in an instant. So this is a much more targeted and effective way of going about it,” he said.

Some local residents have their doubts. But the FDA says the mosquitos won’t harm people or the environment, and Parry defends the research.

“There are people out there that don’t like genetic engineering. And I completely respect that. But I also respect the people that will see the science, that will listen to the arguments, and that want to protect people,” he said.

The FDA is taking public comment until May 13 th, and will consider it before signing off.

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As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.