Do­minica re­jects use of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Do­minica wants no part in the use of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes to com­bat the Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito, the vec­tor that car­ries the Zika, Dengue and Chikun­gunya viruses.

Min­is­ter of Health Dr. Ken­neth Dar­roux re­cently made that clear as he ad­dressed re­porters on the Zika is­sue.

“This is a pro­posal which has been on the ta­ble for quite a few years . . . We are not go­ing to en­gage in any dis­cus­sion un­less there is sci­en­tific proof that this is safe,” he said.

A pro­ject us­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied male mos­qui­toes to kill off the dis­ease-car­ry­ing vec­tors is be­ing car­ried out in Brazil, and is be­ing ex­panded, as that coun­try bat­tles an out­break of the Zika virus. When the ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­sect mates with a dis­ease­caus­ing fe­male, he passes on a gene that causes lar­vae to die be­fore adult­hood. By out­num­ber­ing the na­tive males, the ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes re­duce the num­ber of dengue-caus­ing mos­qui­toes.

But Dr. Dar­roux said it is not clear what the other ef­fects are. “Re­leas­ing ge­net­i­cal­ly­mod­i­fied ma­te­rial into the en­vi­ron­ment might help com­bat the Aedes ae­gypti, but then what hap­pens to the mod­i­fied ma­te­rial? It will get into the wa­ter and food sup­ply, etcetera. We need much more con­crete in­for­ma­tion be­fore we can en­gage th­ese com­pa­nies which are lob­by­ing to use this method,” he stressed.

Ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes are be­ing used in Brazil to re­duce the pop­u­la­tion of the Aedes ae­gypti that spreads

sev­eral viruses.

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