Monday, October 11, 2010

Field testing approved for GM mosquitoes

Beware, GM mosquitoes will be here soon. I wonder how the ecosystem will be affected. Disaster in waiting?
October 11, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Biosafety Board has approved the release of genetically-modified Aedes mosquitoes for field testing, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

However, the decision would still need Cabinet approval, he said.

“Clinical trial at the laboratory level was successful and the biosafety committee has approved it for testing in a controlled environment,” he said.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would present it to the Cabinet for approval, he told a media conference at the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific here yesterday.

The board had assessed the field experiment proposal from the Institute of Medical Research to release the mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, and Alor Gajah, Malacca, in early October.

Male Aedes Aegypti would be genetically-modified and when mated with female Aedes mosquitoes in the environment, it is hoped the killer genes would cause the larvae to die. (The Aedes Aegypti mosquito can spread the dengue fever, Chikungunya and yellow fever viruses).

“We see it as the most efficient and fastest way in eradicating Aedes mosquitoes from our local environment,” Liow said, adding that Aedes is not a species endemic to Malaysia.

However, he said, dengue posed a major concern in Malaysia because the number of cases has increased by more than 25% this year.

Liow said his ministry was taking the disease seriously because it was not only a health issue but also an environmental hazard.

WHO Western Pacific regional director Dr Shin Young-soo said Malaysia is leading in the research in this area but cautioned that care be taken in introducing a new species to the environment.

He said global experts on tropical diseases research would discuss the issue soon and decide on what they would do with the new development.

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