Safety and sustainability

Despite the widespread use of insect control methods, including insecticides, over many years, vector- borne diseases are still rapidly increasing and crop damage continues. Our RIDL approach is an effective new solution which has been designed to be both sustainable and safe.

 Sustainability

  • Our approach relies on the natural mating instinct of a male insect which is more cost-effective, and uses less energy, than alternatives.
  • RIDL is species-specific, unlike other control methods that will not distinguish between the target insect and other insects.
  • There is no significant residual impact to the environment. If RIDL male insects are no longer released the target insect population is likely to recover.
  • It can be used as part of a broad IVC (integrated vector control) programme or IPM (integrated pest management) but does not, in itself, involve the use of chemicals in the home or the environment.

In a record of decision in 2009, following an Environmental Impact Assessment, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service  (part of the US Department of Agriculture)  said that Oxitec’s technology was ‘environmentally preferable to all other alternatives’.

Safety

  • Only male insects are released (male mosquitoes do not bite or spread disease).
  • RIDL insects are sterile so the genes we’ve introduced do not persist in the target species.
  • RIDL insects only mate with their own species, so introduced DNA sequences cannot spread by interbreeding.
  • No toxins are introduced into the insects to cause sterility so there is no danger to birds or animals that eat them.
  • We have developed novel molecular and other methods to ensure that introduced DNA sequences are firmly locked in place with no risk of ‘horizontal’ gene transfer.
  • We comply with all relevant national and international legislation. Insects are only transported, evaluated in a laboratory or released into the environment when all relevant regulatory approvals have been met.