‘A decade ago, genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes were first released globally, in the Cayman Islands, by UK-based company Oxitec. Further releases followed in Malaysia, Panama, and Brazil.
In a public relations whitewash, Oxitec has repeatedly claimed that the experiments successfully wiped out nearly 90% of the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, which is one of the vectors to transmit tropical diseases such as dengue fever, zika and chikungunya. Their approach was to release GM mosquitoes carrying a trait designed to kill both the male and female offspring before reaching adulthood.
However, these claims are not supported by the evidence that has become available on the releases, which were denounced as a failure by the Cayman Islands government. Most tellingly, Oxitec has quietly halted the planned releases of these GM mosquitoes in other countries.
This briefing: Oxitec’s failed GM mosquito releases worldwide: Forewarnings for Africa and the Target Malaria project, by the ACB, GeneWatch UK and Third World Network details the very serious concerns arising from the releases of GM mosquitoes around the world, which range from the risks posed to local populations and the environment to the lack of adequate risk assessment and flouting of international and local regulations. In this vlog, Dr Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK highlights some key points.