RIVM concludes negligible risk of Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes
France’s High Council for Biotechnology also publishes Supportive Position
Oxford, UK, July 6th, 2017 – The National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands today published its “Technical evaluation of a potential release of OX513A Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on the island of Saba”, which positively concludes a vector control program using Oxitec’s Friendly™ Aedes aegypti mosquitoes would pose negligible risks to human health and the environment.
RIVM’s GMO office undertook its biosafety evaluation of Oxitec’s Friendly™ self-limiting mosquito technology following the guidance for risk assessment of genetically modified animals by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European risk assessment framework, which is considered one of the most robust and thorough biosafety frameworks globally. Additionally this independent review reflected guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) for testing of genetically modified mosquitoes as well as the Cartagena Protocol on the Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“We welcome the favorable outcome of the RIVM’s extensive review indicating a positive safety profile of our bio-based mosquito technology,” said Mark Carnegie-Brown Chief Executive Officer at Oxitec. “When combined with our excellent efficacy data, this result points to the significant potential of the Oxitec platform to safely address the growing global challenge from dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. We are committed to working with regulators worldwide to bring this important technology to market.”
This result reinforces the affirmative biosafety profile of Oxitec’s self-limiting technology for deployment in vector control programs, and also supports the conclusions of environmental assessments conducted elsewhere including from Brazil’s National Technical Commission of Biosafety (CTNBio) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose review team consisted of experts from the Center for Veterinary Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Additionally, France’s High Council for Biotechnology (HCB) last month published its supportive position on the use of genetically modified mosquitoes for vector control, following the emergence of mosquito-borne diseases in French overseas territories and perceived threats to metropolitan France. Oxitec has been working closely with the HCB to help inform their evaluation and welcomes HCB’s opinion on self-limiting Aedes aegypti. The HCB opinion will help to shape the policy landscape in France towards the deployment of new tools for vector control, and is a positive step towards advancing Oxitec vector control projects in the French Caribbean.
How Friendly™ Aedes works
Oxitec has been working in Aedes aegypti control for over a decade and pioneered the use of a biological method to suppress wild populations of this dangerous mosquito species through the release of Friendly™ Aedes males, which do not bite and do not transmit diseases. When released, these males search for wild females to mate, and their offspring inherit a self-limiting gene that causes them to die before reaching functional adulthood. Friendly™ Aedes’ offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that allows tracking and monitoring at a level never before achieved, making the assessment of effectiveness more accurate throughout the whole Friendly™ Aedes deployment program. Unlike other approaches, Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes die along with their offspring, and therefore do not persist in the environment or leave any ecological footprint.
Oxitec is a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops, and was founded in 2002 as a spinout from Oxford University (UK). Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
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