GE mosquitoes

Scientific opinion - September 2010

Scientific opinion to the Department of Biosafety, Ministery of Natural Resources and Environment of Malaysia

In August 2010, the Malaysian Ministry for Natural Resource and Environment announced plans to release the GM mosquito Aedes aegypti OX513A (NRE(S)609-2/1/3) and invited scientific opinions. EcoNexus submitted the following Scientific Opinion.

Open Letter - February 2011

Open Letter from Civil Society Organizations in Response to the Field Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes in Malaysia

Many of us were among the 87 civil society organizations from around the world that sent you, in December 2010, a statement of concern regarding the field release of genetically modified (GM) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Malaysia. At the time, we had stated that it was not clear when such releases would occur, but given the tremendous international interest in the issue, it would be regrettable if the field trials were to be shrouded in secrecy.
It has recently come to our attention that the field trials have actually happened, on 21 December 2010 and were completed on 5 January 2011. This was brought to light through a press statement dated 25 January 2011, issued by the proponent of the field experiments, the Institute for Medical Research (IMR). However, as late as 4 January 2011, there were press reports in the Malaysian media stating that the trials had been postponed. It therefore appears that neither the local communities nor the Malaysian public at large knew that these trials had occurred.

Open Letter - December 2010

Statement of Concern from Civil Society Organizations Regarding Field Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

As civil society organizations from around the world, we write to you to respectfully put forward our views on the issue of the release of genetically modified (GM) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Malaysia. It is not clear when such releases will occur, but given the tremendous international interest in the issue, it would be regrettable if the field trials were to be shrouded in secrecy.
We are equally concerned by news of the field releases in 2009 and 2010 of the same GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and are calling for a transparent assessment of the health and environmental impacts of these trials, pending which, no further field releases of GM mosquitoes should occur. The Cayman trials have also been strongly criticized for being conducted without public consultation or ethical oversight and for not seeking the informed consent from local people.

Introduction

GM mosquito OX513A ...

Oxford-based company Oxitech genetically modified the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) to develop the GM variety OX513A. OX513A mosquitoes are genetically modified to require the antibiotic tetracycline in order to survive to adulthood.
The mosquitoes are grown in the lab with tetracycline present, before adult males and females are separated. The male are released into the environment, where they are supposed to mate with female mosquitoes producing offspring that will mainly die off as larvae or pupae due to the lack of antibiotic in the wild. (In the lab, 3-4% survived even without the antibiotic.) This should weaken the wild population and thereby also the spread of disease potentially carried by the wild population.
The release has to be repeated regularly to keep up with the short reproduction cycle of mosquitoes. A number of problems and open questions have been identified regarding the risk of survival and establishment, gene transfer and adverse effects on ecosystems, as Ricarda Steinbrecher shows in her Scientific Opinion.

... released in Cayman Island, Malaysia and Brazil

In 2009 and 2010, Oxford-based company Oxitech released 3 million GM mosquitoes OX513A on the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory. Information about these releases was only published a year later, and questions have been raised about the legality of the procedures under UK and EU legislation.
In December 2010, GM mosquitoes were released in Malaysia, and in February 2011 in Brazil. The release of 16 - 24,000 GM mosquitoes OX513A (My1) in Malaysia took place at a moment when the public was left to believe that the trials were postponed.
According to GeneWatch future releases are aledgely planned in countries like Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the USA.

February 2012