Friday, January 20, 2012

MRCU: Release on modified mosquitoes 'misleading'

Source: Cay Compass

Genetically-engineered mosquitoes released in Grand Cayman in 2009 to help fight the potential outbreak of dengue fever are not reproducing as some organisations have claimed recently, said the head of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit in the Cayman Islands. 

The Cayman Islands saw an 80 per cent reduction in the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is a known carrier of dengue fever in the test area, according to the MRCU officials. 

A release published 12 January by several organisations opposed to genetic modification claiming that Oxitec – the company that provided genetically-modified mosquitoes released during a six-month trial period in East End – concealed important information is “inaccurate and makes no sense,” said Dr. Bill Petrie, director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit in Grand Cayman. 

In its report, the Friends of the Earth US, GeneWatch UK and Third World Network had claimed that the, “mosquitoes described by their manufacturer, UK company Oxitec, as ‘sterile’ are in fact not sterile and their offspring have a 15 per cent survival rate in the presence of the common antibiotic tetracycline.” 

Dr. Petrie acknowledged the impact the antibiotic may have on the insects but took exception to the veracity of those assertions by saying, “tetracycline is the antidote for the genetically-modified state the insects are in and is required to be able to breed the mosquitoes in the lab. However, it would need to be 150 times higher in concentration that is usually found in sewage for it to be effective. Furthermore, they claim that dengue carrying mosquitoes breed in sewage, which is not true here and has never been found to be so.” 

“They don’t care what lies they tell,” he said. “Only male mosquitoes were released and they cannot bite and do not live long.” 

“These are people with an agenda and it’s scare mongering,” Dr. Petrie said. “The report is targeting Oxitec rather than us here in the Cayman Islands, but they have even said that we have no regulations here which is not true.”  

“We have heard nothing for the advantages of the study,” Dr. Petrie said. “Their view is biased.”  
 
This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Cay Compass.

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