FDA Clarifies Its Role in Developing Genetically Engineered Mosquitos

Around November of last year the UK biotech firm Oxitec created a strain of Aedes aegypti- a species of mosquito responsible for spreading the Zika virus- that was designed to spread a lethal gene and dramatically cut down mosquito populations. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine was put in charge of trial runs and recently cleared its test release of mosquitos last August.

However, there has been some controversy over the FDA gaining the responsibility of overseeing the environmental impact of mosquitos, a role that has traditionally gone to the EPA. “Without relevant expertise, not surprisingly the FDA has been ill-equipped to review the application expeditiously,” wrote attorney John Cohrssen and physician and former FDA official Henry Miller in a Forbes op-ed last January.

In response, the FDA explained that the product (genetically engineered mosquitos) should be considered as pesticides (more specifically, biological pesticides). This means that if finalized, the responsibility for future GE mosquito strains would ultimately fall to the EPA for review.

 

Reference: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/GuidanceforIndustry/UCM533600.pdf

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