Originally published April 21 2015
Brazil, Malaysia cancel GM mosquito trials citing risks and ineffectiveness
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) Field trials in Bentong, a town in the state of Pahang, Malaysia, were conducted to determine if GM mosquitoes could help keep dengue at bay, with a final determination that such an attempt does not yield any benefits. In fact, the risks were found to be so great that the plan was halted altogether; health officials expressed strong disinterest in pursuing the GM mosquito project after they found that these trials would ultimately be ineffective.(1)
Releasing male GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes into the wild with the hopes that they would mate and produce offspring that would die before adulthood -- and therefore prevent the spread of dengue -- were found to carry risks on health, financial and environmental levels.
Dr. Lee Han Lim of the Medical Entomology Unit and WHO Collaborating Centre for Vectors at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) said that the detailed studies on this controversial topic confirmed that GM Aedes aegypti is unable to fight dengue; their ability to halt transmissible disease was not altered, nor was their biology, mating competitiveness or overall behavior. That's right -- no beneficial changes whatsoever were identified from this process!(1)
"We did not proceed further after the initial study," said the country's health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. He suggested that it simply wouldn't be a wise financial move to implement on a larger, ongoing scale since the initial field trials didn't prove to be effective.(1)
Brazil, too, which was involved in GM mosquito testing, has also announced that they will not proceed with such a method in an attempt to control dengue.
Biotech company bent on spreading GM mosquito dangers around the globe?The GM mosquito trials, conducted by the IMR and Oxitec Ltd., a British-based biotech company, involved releasing about 6,000 mosquitoes into uninhabited forests around Bentong. This took place in December 2010. In early 2011, the area was fogged to destroy the mosquitoes, mainly due to public safety concerns.(1)
Oxitec is the same company that has their eye on releasing GM mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, should the FDA approve.(2)
They are adamant that this area in particular is more subject to disease due to its location; climate and wind shifts, in addition to being a shipping hub, tourist destination and home of a fast-growing population, makes the area ripe for disease. Nearby tropical regions and the people and items from such areas, Oxitec says, puts the Florida Keys at risk for dengue -- at least, that's the fearful thought process the company attempts to convey.(2)
Expert: GM mosquitoes could "make the dengue situation worse""There is no evidence of any reduction in the risk of dengue fever, which can continue even if the number of mosquitoes is reduced," said Dr. Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK. In fact, from a health perspective, she says that, rather than help prevent dengue, GM mosquitoes can actually create a more dangerous situation.(3)
"One concern is that releasing genetically engineered mosquitoes could even make the dengue situation worse," Wallace said, "perhaps by reducing immunity to the more serious form of the disease."(3)
She also brings to light the fact that the biotech company uses tetracycline as part of it's GM mosquito-creating process, something that wreaks havoc on the environment and, in turn, human and animal health. "Survival rates of next-generation genetically engineered mosquitoes increase from 3 percent up to 18 percent when fed on industrially farmed meat, which is contaminated with the common antibiotic tetracycline," she explained in a NY Times piece. "Tetracycline will be present in release areas in discarded takeaways, pet food and in some mosquito breeding sites such as septic tanks."(3)
She says that tetracycline is so bad that it's being phased out in the United States, following in the footsteps of several other countries that have done away with it entirely since it's been found to carry health risks.
Hopefully, other countries where this is being considered -- now or in the future -- will realize that GM mosquitoes are more harmful than they are beneficial.
Many areas dish out big money for trials to be conducted, only to learn that they're not effective and, therefore, not worth pursuing. In addition to this financial risk, people are learning quickly that altering mosquitoes in this way is also detrimentally altering the environment and consequently the health of people and animals on the planet.
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