Based on the trials conducted, we’re confident that our mosquito is safe for humans, and would do no harm to the environment, as were the regulators who approved its use. It also works well as an improvement and addition to the existing control methods. There of course remains a small possibility, as with any new technology, that sometime in the future there may be unforeseen consequences, and this is weighed against the fact that the solution we offer has the potential to benefit millions of lives. Even something as widely accepted as the use of mobile phones might have unforeseen consequences in time. But the potential for unforeseen consequences has to be balanced against the benefits a technology can bring; in the case of Oxitec products, that benefit is the suppression of painful, debilitating and increasingly widespread diseases.
We’re confident that the Oxitec mosquitoes do not bite or spread disease. Both released males and their offspring die. The system works by ensuring that females that mate with Oxitec males do not reproduce – so the system cannot spread or persist in the environment. As these insects only produce offspring with their own species the effect in the environment is limited to that disease carrying Aedes aegypti and does not target beneficial predators and insects. The introduced gene is innocuous, it is not toxic or allergenic and does not stay in the environment.
We and other independent parties have been testing Oxitec mosquitoes since 2002 and in all countries, the release of our mosquitoes goes through an independent regulatory process that examines the risks and benefits. These regulatory processes have full access to trials and independent studies on Oxitec’s OX513A and will only sanction release when they are confident of the safety and environmental profile.