Forrest Innovations USA, Inc., headquartered in Frederick, MD, is a subsidiary of Forrest Innovations Israel, an environmental technology start-up developing and commercializing a ground-breaking clean technology to fight mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito-borne diseases are becoming a growing threat to both human populations and food security worldwide. Climate change has affected the breeding seasons of mosquitoes, causing invasive species to spread and seasonal populations to last longer. This increases the chances of mosquitoes transmitting seriously debilitating or lethal viruses to humans. Additionally, urbanization has led to more contact between humans and wildlife, which can introduce new pathogens transmitted from mosquitos to human populations at an alarming rate. Other than yellow fever (YFV) vaccines, there are currently no widely accessible vaccines or specific treatments to prevent or treat mosquito-borne infections. In the United States, mosquito-borne disease mitigation strategies rely heavily on the widespread use of pesticides, especially where population densities are high. However, this solution is not sustainable because it fails to account for the increased chemical and ecological resistance of the insects to these interventions and the ecological damage it causes. Moreover, the use of chemicals is a great cause for concern due to the collateral damage to already endangered honeybees and insect biodiversity.
Forrest Innovations’ Natural Vector Control (NVC) solution produces highly competitive sterile male mosquitoes (initially collected locally and bred in large numbers in Forrest facilities. The male mosquitos are safe. They don’t bite humans (or other animals), they do not transmit any viruses and are free of any genetic modification (non-GMO) or chemical reagents. After these males copulate with the wild female mosquitos (each female mates once, whereas males can mate multiple times), the eggs the females oviposit are unfertilized, causing the gradual decline of the wild mosquito population in the treated area.
Forrest’s mosquito population suppression technology disrupts the vector-control market, providing a dramatic paradigm shift in reducing disease-transmitting mosquito populations in the regions of operation.
In Brazil, beginning in 2018, Forrest developed four rounds of testing of its NVC technology. Millions of NVC-treated mosquitoes were produced and released during the pilot project in Jacarezinho, Paraná (de Castro Poncio, et al. 2021). Following this successful project, on November 23, 2020, Forrest signed a contract with Klabin, one of Brazil’s largest pulp and paper producers, to produce and release sterile male mosquitoes in the city of Ortigueira. Under the supervision of and in compliance with instructions provided by local EPA-equivalent authorities, the initiative provided for the production and release of NVC mosquitoes in the municipality, which achieved a 99% reduction in the wild Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, demonstrating the effectiveness of the technology in reducing the number of mosquitoes that transmit Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya, as published in the Lancet Regional Health – Americas (de Castro Poncio, et al. 2023 /.
Forrest is the only company with peer-reviewed, proven evidence for preventing Dengue in Brazil, where it has already demonstrated remarkable results in mosquito-borne disease reduction.
The West Nile Virus (WNV) poses a serious neuro-invasive disease threat. Since WNV became widely established in the U.S., an average of 2,400 cases per year have been reported, and more than 50% of cases are of severe neuroinvasive disease, of which around 5% result in death. The United States CDC has identified West Nile Virus among the top eight priority zoonotic diseases of national concern. The CDC, state and local governments are urgently seeking cost-effective, socially, culturally, and environmentally acceptable solutions, especially in underrepresented communities.
The global cost of mosquito-transmitted diseases exceeds $40 billion annually. In the post-COVID-19 world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed mosquitos as one of the top threats to public health. The global market for Vector Control was valued at US$17.3 Billion in 2022. It is expected to grow and reach US$25.7 Billion by 2030, with a steady annual growth rate of 5.1% between 2022 and 2030. Specifically, the insect control segment is predicted to grow at 5.5% and reach US$15.3 Billion.
The SIT (sterile insect technique) methodology Forrest developed to suppress mosquito populations can be applied to many different species, resulting in sterile male mosquitoes that are highly competitive with wild mosquitoes, a significant advantage over other methodologies. Furthermore, the sterilization treatment is 100% effective and restricted to the treated mosquitoes. It is environmentally safe and prevents the harm caused by the use of chemical pesticides.
In the US, Forrest Innovations opened its HQ and research lab in Frederick, Maryland. In this lab, Forrest’s team applies the technique for local strain mosquitos. As it plans to commercialize its technology in the US, Forrest is conducting the lab experiments and trials required to acquire the US EPA approval for field trials. These field trials are planned to begin in the summer of 2024.
Following successful field trials, Forrest Innovations plans to expand its operations in Maryland to open NVC sterile male mosquito production facilities and provide its solution to state and local governments or mosquito abatement districts nationwide.
With its safe, non-genetically modified solution, Forrest Innovations’ vision is to eliminate the risk of mosquito-borne disease while avoiding the use of dangerous chemicals, applying its green, environmentally safe technology.