Argentina prepares to fight Zika with sterile mosquitoes by radiation
After its success in controlling a devastating fruit fly with nuclear technology, Argentina is gearing up to fight a new enemy: mosquitoes that transmit Zika, in addition to dengue and chikungunya. The method applied in both cases is the sterile insect technique, SIT, an insect birth control method that uses irradiation to sterilize and release insects to suppress pest populations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have supported Argentina in applying SIT against fruit flies since the mid-1990s.
Argentina has a long history of applying area-wide SIT successfully. Ever since the Mediterranean fruit fly appeared in the country in the 1900s, fruit trade with countries free of the pest was restricted. This resulted in multimillion dollar losses due to quarantine restrictions and costs associated with postharvest treatments required for fruit exports.