Genetically modified mosquitoes worry NGOs

G. Vinod
Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Some 22 Malaysian and regional non-governmental organisations (NGO) doubtful about the safety and effectiveness of the genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes are urging the government to have a public debate before releasing the insect into the environment.

In its letter to the Health Ministry, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, National Biosafety Board (NBB), the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC), the NGOs said it was vital to engage the public on the field experiment first as it affects public health and environment.

“There must be a national discussion as to whether GM mosquitoes are indeed the right approach to addressing the dengue menace.

“The general public are integral to effective dengue control and there must be a consensus on this issue.

“The government must disclose to us whether the release had infact actually taken place,” they said.

They also expressed their reservations over the genetic engineering and the likelyhood of ‘unexpected results.’

“Not much is known on how GM mosquitoes will interact with other wild mosquitoes and other species in the eco-system.

“Besides, a small proportion of the GM progeny may survive – some of which would be female – despite claims that the technology is safe as the larvae will die.

“As female mosquitoes bite humans and transmit dengue, has the risk of an increased disease burden been assessed?

“The surviving GM larvae would also lead to the persistence of GM genes in the environment, with unknown consequences,” said the groups.

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