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EPA Approves Release of Mosquito-Killing Mosquitoes in 20 States
Kentucky-based biotechnology startup MosquitoMate was given U.S. government approval to release bacteria-infected mosquitoes in several states.
The company's lab-grown Aedes albopictus (aka ZAP males) are designed to halt the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
So how does it work? When ZAP males mate with wild female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry yellow fever, dengue and Zika, the resulting eggs do not hatch. That's because MosquitoMate's bugs are infected with Wolbachia, a common and naturally occurring strain of bacterium that Aedes aegypti does not carry. The fertilized eggs never hatch because the paternal chromosomes do not properly form, according to Nature. Mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia are also less likely to carry viruses.
The hope is that wild, disease-carrying mosquito populations will eventually die out. And since the ZAP males do not bite, these mozzies shouldn't be a problem to have around.
"It's a non-chemical way of dealing with mosquitoes, so from that perspective, you'd think it would have a lot of appeal," David O'Brochta, an entomologist at the University of Maryland in Rockville, told Nature. "I'm glad to see it pushed forward, as I think it could be potentially really important."
Gizmodo reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Nov. 3 registered the lab-grown mosquito as a biopesticide. MosquitoMate will have a five-year license to sell in 20 different states and Washington, DC.
"First we're going to prove our business model here in Lexington, Kentucky, but we have approval in 20 states," Karen Dobson, MosquitoMate production manager, told
The company will have to produce millions of its mosquitoes in order to suppress an entire city's mosquito population, Nature reported. MosquitoMate must find a way to efficiently separate its non-biting male mosquitoes from females, a process that's currently done by hand and mechanically.
This is not the first time the U.S. government has approved the release of lab-reared mosquitoes to combat diseases. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help combat the Zika virus. But as Motherboard noted, local voters rejected the plan over concerns about its impacts on the local environment.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.