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Oxitec's Olive Fly Strain Could Become First GM Insect to Undergo Field Evaluation in the EU
Date:9/4/2013

flies as tools to control their own species, Oxitec's approach ensures that only the olive fly is targeted. Leading the trial, Dr Martha Koukidou of Oxitec explains, 'Olive flies only mate with olive flies. Our approach is aimed not only at controlling the olive fly, but  also to avoid harming other species. By using our form of genetic sterility our flies are designed to eliminate the pest and not to stay in the environment. Also, unlike any other control approach, ours contains a marker making monitoring of our flies very accurate and simple.'

Oxitec's approach has already been successful in trials with mosquitoes. Dengue fever is a growing global threat and is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti). A recent trial in Brazil carried out in an urban environment achieved a 96% suppression of this dengue mosquito.

Oxitec has now applied to the Catalan regulatory authorities for permission to conduct a field evaluation of its olive fly strain, in accordance with EU regulations. Only when the national biosafety commission has evaluated the application following a period of public comment, and written permission has been received from the Catalan authorities, can any release take place. 

Commenting on the Oxitec technology, Victor Perdrix of the biological control company OpenNatur in Spain said, "We have been looking for a highly effective and environmentally sound solution for olive fly. We believe this holds great potential."

Many olive farmers, such as Paul di Calabiana Willan, have also expressed their support for the Oxitec approach, "I am an olive farmer in Como, northern Italy. On the mountain terraces here, agriculture depends on the success of olive plantations, but in recent years the olive fly pest has wiped out several harvests. The main weapon against t
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SOURCE Oxitec Ltd.
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