What is the difference between conventional SIT and Oxitec’s approach?
Conventional SIT uses radiation to sterilize the insects and frequently both sterilized males and females are released. The radiation dose must be fine tuned providing enough radiation to sterilize the insect without damaging it to the extent that it does not mate in the wild. Oxitec’s technology was developed using genetics rather than radiation. This means that, for the first time, the Sterile Insect Technique, which has been extremely successful in agriculture, can be applied to mosquitoes that spread disease. Also, Oxitec only release male insects of a species that do not spread disease or (in agriculture) cause crop damage. Further, in comparison to programmes where radiation can be used the use of a genetic approach can circumvent the fitness penalty associated with radiation.