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Pushback on Mosquito Paper

A new paper says that an effort to introduce gene drives into mosquitos to reduce their numbers has not gone as planned, but the company behind that effort argues the paper is flawed, New Atlas reports.

The British firm Oxitec has developed modified male mosquitos that, when they mate with wild female mosquitos, the resulting larvae don't survive to adulthood. In a trial in Brazil, the firm had reported that their approach led to an 82 percent decrease in the number of wild mosquito larvae.

But researchers from the US and Brazil say in a Scientific Reports paper that they monitored the Aedes aegypti population at that Brazilian test site and report that parts of transgenic mosquito's genome has become incorporated into the local wild mosquito population, something that was not supposed to occur.

However, Oxitec tells Gizmodo that the new paper includes "numerous false, speculative, and unsubstantiated claims and statements about Oxitec's mosquito technology." The firm adds in a statement on its site that there were no negative effects on people.

The paper currently has a notice indicating that the journal is aware of and is looking into criticisms of the paper's conclusions, and, according to Gizmodo, Oxitec says it is working with the journal to have the paper corrected or removed.