Sept 7 Intrexon Corp said on Wednesday a
bipartisan coalition of Florida politicians had urged the U.S.
government to step up efforts to fight Zika, including
sanctioning the emergency use of the company's genetically
The Florida House members, led by Speaker-designate Richard
Corcoran and Democratic leader-designate Janet Cruz, have
written to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
seeking permission for the state and local governments to use
the GM mosquito, the company said.
No vaccine or treatment has been approved for Zika.
The virus, first detected in Brazil last year, has rapidly
spread across the Americas and parts of Asia.
In recent weeks, U.S. authorities determined that local
mosquitoes were transmitting Zika in an area of south Florida.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has also experienced a
U.S. health regulators cleared the way last month for a
trial in Key Haven, Florida to assess the effectiveness of
Intrexon's GM mosquitoes to reduce levels of the aedes aegypti
mosquito population, which is known to carry Zika, dengue and
There is vote scheduled in November seeking community
approval for the trial, as the use of Intrexon's mosquitoes have
raised concerns among the locals about its safety.
In the letter, the politicians said that delaying Florida's
access to Intrexon's technology posed "an unnecessary health
risk" to the people of Florida, the company said.
The mosquitoes are genetically altered so their offspring
die before they can reproduce.
Trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands have shown
that the GM mosquitoes can reduce localized Aedes aegypti
populations by more than 90 percent. (bit.ly/1McvLMg)
The GM mosquito strain is made by Oxitec, an Oxford
University spin-off company that is now a UK subsidiary of
While most people experience mild symptoms, Zika infections
in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly, a
severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized.
In adults, it can cause a rare neurological syndrome called
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr
and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)