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British Firm Insists Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Used to Combat Zika Virus Are Safe, Effective

Oxitec promotional GM mosquito programme

Oxitec promotional GM mosquito program

GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Responding to concerns about the long-term impact of releasing genetically engineered mosquitoes in an effort to eradicate the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti species, the firm behind the bio-science that has created sterile male insects insists that it is not only safe but very effective.

Refuting claims by GeneWatch UK, which has expressed serious concerns about the release of genetically modified (GM) bugs into the wild, Oxitec told CNS that previous tests, including those here, were very successful with a 90 percent suppression of the wild population.

“This level of control is unparalleled — in comparison, insecticides are 30-50 percent effective at best,” a spokesperson for the firm stated.

The British firm said it wasn’t just the company making claims, but a series of trials and tests had been assessed by regulators in all of the countries where the GM mosquitoes have been released.

“Oxitec’s technology has been assessed by independent experts,” Matthew Warren from Oxitec confirmed.

He said, “The project in Grand Cayman has been previously assessed by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment. Since the implementation of the National Conservation Law, it is being further reviewed by the National Conservation Council. Similarly, for our planned trial in Florida, experts from the Centers for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine evaluated potential impacts on health and environment, and issued a preliminary finding of no significant impact. The World Health Organization has also specifically recommended pilot deployment of our technology.”

Oxitec insists that its engineered insects are not harmful to humans.

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