FDA approve genetically altered mosquitoes designed to kill off Zika virus

The matter of pest control has gone full sci-fi

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In this file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in the Sao Paulo's University in Sao Paulo, Brazil | Image: Andre Penner / AP/Press Association Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have given the go-ahead for the final steps towards the creation of genetically altered mosquito that could help kill off the Zika virus.

Once the FDA are confident that "it will not have significant impacts on the environment", then a particular breed of mosquito - the Aedes aegypti - will be released, complete with a fatal genetic defect that it will pass on to its offspring.

According to Fusion.net, the people behind the project - Oxitec, a biotech company that focuses on insect control - are hoping that the males will mate and spread the genetic defect, thus killing off large numbers of mosquitoes.

The company had attempted to use this method before to counteract a previous outbreak of dengue fever but were stopped by public objections, but with multiple cases of the Zika virus discovered in the Florida keys, and early tests showing a 90% success rate with the program, the situation appears to have changed this time around.