Panama OKs dengue control GM mosquito trials
Panama has approved the next phase of evaluation for UK pest control company Oxitec's (Oxford) genetically modified sterile mosquitoes as a novel tool to combat the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti). Ministry of Agricultural Development approval permits open field trials. They will be carried out by the Gorgas Institute with Oxitec's technical support for several months from the spring. Evaluations of Oxitec's mosquitoes have shown suppression of over 90% of dengue mosquito populations in the Cayman Islands and in Brazil (Agrow No 667, p 15). The company says that release of the sterile mosquitoes should lead to less reliance on chemical pesticides to control the dengue fever vectors. The country's Prime Minister recently revealed that Panama was going through a "dengue epidemic", Oxitec notes. Cases in the country have tripled in in 2012-13, it adds.