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UK group warns Jamaica, T&T against releasing genetically modified mosquitoes for Chik-V fight

Published:Thursday | November 13, 2014 | 7:45 PM

A United Kingdom-based lobby group is warning Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago not to fall for marketing attempts to entice them to release genetically modified mosquitoes as a means of combating the Chikungunya virus and dengue fever.

GeneWatch UK today issued a press release saying UK Trade and Investment was attempting to sell UK company Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes (GM) in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

It says Oxitec’s GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are intended to be released in vast numbers to mate with wild mosquitoes.

Their offspring are genetically programmed to die at the larval stage, with the aim of reducing the wild mosquito population.

But GeneWatch UK says researchers in Brazil have confirmed there has been no reduction in dengue in areas where Oxitec has conducted experimental releases of GM mosquitoes.

It says Oxitec has also confirmed that it cannot show any reduction in disease and that in fact a dengue emergency has been declared in the town in Brazil where Oxitec's GM mosquito experiments are taking place.

Recently, Trinidad and Tobago’s health minister, Dr Fuad Khan, said his Government would consider introducing genetically modified mosquitoes to fight the deadly dengue and chikungunya viruses if the price is right.

There has been no indication in Jamaica that the Government is considering this route as a means of combating the viruses.


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