Cayman Islands

Widescale Release of ‘Zika-Fighting GM Mosquitoes’ Approved in Cayman Islands

Have genetically modified mosquitos by the British biotech firm Oxitec fulfilled their purpose?
Widescale Release of ‘Zika-Fighting GM Mosquitoes’ Approved in Cayman Islands

The National Conservation Council…unanimously approved the islandwide rollout of the genetically modified mosquito program without the need for a new independent risk assessment.

Bill Petrie, head of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, said a national program using the technique to fight the disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito could begin in February 2018.

He said contractual negotiations are ongoing between British biotech firm Oxitec and the Cayman Islands government, but…the conservation council‘s decision provides the regulatory approval for the project to proceed.

In a “screening opinion” to the council, Department of Environment officials advised that international risk assessments conducted in trials in Brazil, Malaysia and the U.S. provided sufficient confidence to approve the application without the need for further inquiries.

Dr. Petrie said the West Bay program proved successful in dramatically reducing the prevalence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes compared to control areas…He said the islandwide rollout will be integrated with other techniques, including the use of insecticides and “boots on the ground.”

However, he cautioned that GM mosquitoes are not a “silver bullet” for public health emergencies and would not prevent diseases like dengue and Zika from coming to Cayman.


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