Online petition in Malaysia against releasing GM mosquitoes

image: Reuters

G. Vinod
Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Concerned citizens who are against the proposed release of genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes in certain parts of the country have started an online petition campaign to get their message across the nation.

The online petition, titled “No to the release of GM mosquitoes in Bentong and Alor Gajah”, was initiated by Cheah Hooi Giam from Penang and has so far garnered 290 signatories.

Calling on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to reconsider its planned release, Cheah said that no independent scientific data or evidence had been produced to prove that GM mosquitoes would effectively combat the dengue menace.

“Besides, no developed country had allowed the release of GM mosquitoes so far. What is the rationale of Malaysia, with limited scientific resources, rushing to be among the first to use this untested and unknown biological control?

“The Malaysian government must not favour commercial interests at the expense of the welfare, health and safety of the public and the environment,” said Cheah.

She added that within the context of Malaysia’s Biosafety Act (which governs the release of GM mosquitoes), the issues of redress and liability were clearly absent. This has raised public concerns over who would be responsible if anything detrimental to humans and the environment happened.

Based on a random check, most signatories echoed Cheah’s concerns that no compelling evidence had been provided to the public on the plan’s effectiveness and its long-term effects to the environment.

“Show us more convincing studies that tell us there is no impact on the environment,”says YP Wong of Cyberjaya.

Fearing that the mosquitoes may mutate, Grace Liew of Kuala Lumpur asked whether the government can guarantee that the GM mosquitoes or their larvae would not mutate into a new strain.

“Besides, has the government obtained the permission of the locals in Bentong and Alor Gajah before releasing the mosquitoes?” she asked.

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