We’ve been following the development of genetically modified mosquitoes for a little while now (see here and here), and recently stumbled upon this new wrinkle: Oxitec, a leading developer of this technology, is now marketing its Aedes aegypti solution directly to homeowners, businesses and communities in Brazil. This is a departure from previous efforts, where the mosquito suppliers worked with researchers, community leaders and pest management professionals on projects.
Aedes aegypti, commonly known as yellow fever mosquitoes, are known carriers of Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This launch represents the first time globally that using biologically engineered mosquito control technology can be purchased directly by do-it-yourself (DIY) consumers.
The solution received full biosafety commercial approval in 2020 from the Brazilian government’s biosafety authority, CTNBio. The company is making it just-add-water solution available for delivery directly to customers’ doorsteps starting in the State of São Paulo.
Available for purchase online, the product comprises durable outer boxes and branded “Friendly” male mosquito egg refill packs, according to a news release. The release notes that “once delivered, customers only need to add water to the Friendly box, place it in a garden, patio or around a home or business.”
The boxes will produce Oxitec’s non-biting male mosquitos over time, which disperse to find and mate with invasive, biting Aedes aegypti females. Their female offspring cannot survive, which means fewer biting female mosquitoes in the following generations.
While the Friendly Aedes aegypti males pursue and mate with female Aedes aegypti, customers need only reactivate the easy-to-use box once per month.
After launching in São Paulo, Oxitec plans to scale production and expand availability throughout Brazil. The British-based firm has done pilot programs in the U.S. over the years, but has faced opposition over concerns of genetic modification.