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Control Using Genetically Modified Insects Poses Problems for Regulators

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001495
  • Editorial
  • Agriculture
  • Agricultural Biotechnology
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
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pntd.0001495 1..2 Editorial Control Using Genetically Modified Insects Poses Problems for Regulators Michael J. Lehane1*, Serap Aksoy2* 1 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 2 Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America Insects are the pre-eminent form of metazoan life on land, with as many as 1018 individuals alive at any one instant and over three-quarters of a million species described. Although it is estimated that there are as many as 14,000 species that are blood feeders [1], only three to 400 species regularly attract our attention [2]. Some of these are of immense importance to us, as vector-borne diseases still form a huge burden on both the human population (Table 1) and our domesticated animals. Much progress has been achieved in the control of some of these vector-borne diseases by targeting the vector. The following are two good examples. First, insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) have had a major impact in the control of malaria, even in some of the most difficult control settings. The evidence from large- scale assessments shows that households possessing ITNs show a 20% reduction in prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum infection in children under 5 and a 23% reduction in all-cause child mortality, findings that were consistent across a range of transmission settings [3]. Second, the Southern Cone Initiative has used indoor residual spraying against the do- mesticated triatomine vectors of Chagas disease to immense effect [4]. As a result, the overall distribution of Triatoma infestans in the Southern Cone region has been reduced from well over 6 million km2 (1990 estimates) to around 750,000 km2 mainly in the Chaco of northeast Argen- tina and Bolivia, while Rhodnius prolixus has been almost entirely eliminated from Central America, with all countries there now certified by the World Health Orga- nization (WHO) and Pan Ameri

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