Poll: Americans are Willing to Change Their Travel Plans, Support a Field Test of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes

April 13, 2016

Oxford, UK, 13th April 2016 – An independent survey finds that 64 percent of American adults nationwide, and 66 percent in Florida, support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes in areas of the United States that are vulnerable to a Zika outbreak.

The survey was conducted as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comments about its preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on Oxitec’s solution for an investigational trial in the Florida Keys. The finding concluded a proposed field trial of the Company’s OX513A mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida, would not result in a significant impact on the environment.

Key findings:

  • The study also finds that 42 percent of Americans are less likely to take a trip to Florida due to the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus.
  • 59 percent of Americans (66 percent of Floridians) would urge their elected officials to support the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to reduce the number of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.
  • People are generally supportive of having a field test of the Oxitec mosquito in their state. 56 percent of Americans and 69 percent of Floridians would back a field test of these genetically engineered mosquitoes being conducted in their state.

The findings of the Oxitec-commissioned independent study were similar to the findings conducted by Purdue University and The Associated Press.

Oxitec’s Chief Executive Officer Hadyn Parry said, “The Aedes aegypti mosquito is dangerous. Controlling the mosquito should be part of a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of diseases, including Zika, dengue and others. We are encouraged by the study and will continue to work to secure regulatory approval so we can start working with communities to administer this approach.”

Study

1. As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 70 cases of Zika virus in Florida – roughly a quarter of all the reported cases in the United States. Please imagine you are planning a trip to Florida within the next month. To what extent would the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus impact your travel plans? Please select the option that best applies.

Base: Not asked of those living in Florida Total (n=1,076)
Net: More likely 9%
I would be much more likely to travel to Florida 5%
I would be somewhat more likely to travel to Florida 4%
It would have no impact on my travel plans 43%
Net: Less likely 42%
I would be somewhat less likely to travel to Florida 18%
I would be much less likely to travel to Florida 24%
Prefer not to say 6%

 

Study participants were told that scientists have developed a type of Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries a gene that causes its offspring to die before reaching adulthood – before they can mate or spread disease. Because mosquitoes only live for a few weeks, this approach can dramatically reduce the number of mosquitoes that can bite humans. In field trials in Panama, the Cayman Islands and Brazil, genetically engineered mosquitoes have reduced dangerous populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by more than 90 percent. The use of these genetically engineered mosquitoes can also diminish the need to spray communities with potentially toxic insecticides to prevent the spread of disease.

2. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released a preliminary finding that this type of genetically engineered mosquito will NOT have a negative impact on public health or the environment. To what extent do you support or oppose the FDA approving the use of these genetically engineered mosquitoes in areas of the United States that are vulnerable to a Zika outbreak?

  Total (n=1,087) Florida Residents(n=507)
Net: Support 64% 66%
Strongly support 30% 35%
Somewhat support 34% 32%
Net: Oppose 14% 17%
Somewhat oppose 7% 10%
Strongly oppose 7% 7%
Don’t know 22% 17%

 

3. To what extent do you think that elected officials should support or oppose the use of these genetically engineered mosquitoes to reduce the number of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus?

  Total (n=1,087) Florida Residents(n=507)
Net: Support 59% 66%
Elected officials should strongly support 31% 36%
Elected officials should somewhat support 29% 30%
Net: Oppose 13% 14%
Elected officials should somewhat oppose 6% 8%
Elected officials should strongly oppose 6% 6%
Don’t know 28% 21%

 

4. To what extent would you support or oppose a field test of these genetically engineered mosquitoes being conducted in your state?

  Total (n=1,087) Florida Residents(n=507)
Net: Support 56% 69%
Strongly support 28% 36%
Somewhat support 28% 32%
Net: Oppose 22% 19%
Somewhat oppose 10% 8%
Strongly oppose 12% 10%
Don’t know 22% 13%

 

Methodology

Oxitec commissioned the independent study to evaluate points of view of the American people towards using a genetically modified mosquito to stop the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a known carrier of the Zika virus.  The study shows there is broad support, both across the country and in the state of Florida.  The findings of this study are similar to the findings of surveys conducted by Purdue University and the Associated Press.

The results of this study are based on an online survey of 1,076 Americans and 507 Florida residents. Data was collected between April 1 and April 7, 2016. Survey sample was provided by YouGov Plc, an online panel supplier, and responses were weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult (18 or older) population.

As with all surveys, this poll may be subject to methodological errors, including coverage, non-response and measurement errors. Because the survey did not utilise a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error have been calculated.

About Oxitec

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.