FDA Could Approve Genetically Modified Mosquitos to Fight Zika Virus

FDA announced comment period for draft environmental assessment for genetically engineered mosquito. The Food and Drug Administration said genetically modifying mosquitos would not cause harm to other species. Male mosquitos would be modified to produce offspring that die shortly after birth.

The FDA is releasing for public comment a draft environmental assessment (EA) submitted by Oxitec, Ltd., that assesses the potential environmental impacts of a field trial of the company’s genetically engineered (GE) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (OX513A) in Key Haven, Florida. Ae. aegypti is known to transmit potentially debilitating human viral diseases, including Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of certain actions. Pursuant to FDA regulations, sponsors opening an Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) file must submit either a draft EA or a claim of categorical exclusion from the EA requirement.

The FDA is also releasing a preliminary finding of no significant impact (FONSI) that agrees with the draft EA’s conclusion that the field trial of such GE mosquitoes will not result in significant impacts on the environment.

Oxitec will not conduct the field trial of its OX513A mosquito until the FDA has had the opportunity to review public comments on the draft EA, and subsequently has issued either a final EA and FONSI or an environmental impact statement.

The FDA is accepting public comments on the draft EA and preliminary FONSI for 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. To submit your comments electronically to the docket, go to www.regulations.gov and type FDA-2014-N-2235 in the search box. While comments are welcome at any time, you should submit them by the closing date to ensure FDA considers your comments.

To submit your comments to the docket by mail, use the following address. Be sure to include docket number FDA-2014-N-2235 on each page of your written comments.

The Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852