Don’t release GM mosquitoes

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Male GM mosquitoes could be released at both inhabited and uninhabited sites in Pahang and Melaka in October or November, if the National Biosafety Board of Malaysia approves an application to conduct experiments.

The Aedes mosquito (OX513A strain) has been modified to include two new traits, fluorescence and ‘conditional lethality’, which means that in the absence of the antibiotic tetracycline, offspring from these males will die. The trial is aimed at finding out how long these GM mosquitoes will survive and how far they will disperse compared to the wild type non-GM mosquitoes.

If the Institute of Medical Research’s application is approved, up to 6,000 of these ‘non-biting’ GM mosquitoes and a number of non-GM mosquitoes will be released in the Bentong district of Pahang and Alor Gajah and Melaka district. The release will be carried out over two consecutive days during the second week of October or November 2010.

According to a fact sheet, each location will have two release phases. “The first phase will be a release at an uninhabited site approximately 0.5-1 km from the nearest human population and the second phase will be a release at an inhabited site. The size of the proposed sites can be up to 5km2. Releases will be carried out from a single point. A limited release of approximately 2,000-3,000 OX513A strains a day for 2 consecutive days or a single release of approximately 4,000-6,000 OX513A strains alongside the release of an appropriate number of wild type Aedes aegypti will be conducted in both inhabited and uninhabited sites. The experiments may be repeated.”

Check out the full fact sheet at the National Biosafety Clearing House’s website here.

This is one of the first few planned releases of GM mosquitoes anywhere in the world and raises many biosafety concerns, says an activist from the Third World Network (TWN): “I strongly urge you to submit comments, either as individuals or as organisations. Under the Malaysian Biosafety Act 2007, public consultation is mandatory for any environmental release of GMOs and the NBB will have to consider comments from the public. This is the first application that is going through the proper process in Malaysia since the Act was enforced.”

TWN was invited to a meeting by the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC), which provides scientific and technical advice to the Natural Resources and Environment Minister and the National Biosafety Board. TWN has already made its submission, objecting to the field release of these GM mosquitoes given the many questions and concerns it had.

More information on the IMR’s application can be obtained from the www.biosafety.nre.gov.my website here.

When submitting comments and objections, please quote reference number NRE(S) 609-2/1. They should be addressed to The Director General, Department of Biosafety, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Level 1, Podium 2, Wisma Sumber Asli, No. 25, Persiaran Perdana, Precint 4, 62574 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA. Email: [email protected] Fax No: 03-88904935. The closing date for submitting comments is 4 September 2010.

If the approval for the experiments is granted, will the good people of Alor Gajah, Melaka district and Bentong be informed of the release of GM mosquitoes? (Why not conduct the experiments near Putrajaya?)

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JEONG CHUN PHUOC

“Approval for the Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes under the Biosafety Act 2007: A First for Malaysian Biotechnology Industry” The IMR of Malaysia has applied for approval from the National National Safety Board(NSB) to release at least 30,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild at two targeted areas ie The State of Pahang and the UNESCO state of Malacca. Public objection have been brewing up to disallow the release of these GM mosquitoes into the wild. Unless more convincing tests are forthcoming -and this is lacking under the current proposed “Emergency Response Plan”and “Risks Assessment” reports provided by IMR as… Read more »

Aedes aegypti

Dear Anil & others, this will be my last claification & whether you all listen or not is none of my concern. I am ethically bound to provide you scientifically accurate information on the breeding of the killer Aedes. It is up to you whether to allow them to breed under your nose to kill you & your family members. I reiterate: Two conditions for Aedes aegypti & Ae albopictus to breed : (1) ONLY in CONTAINERS or anything that shaped like a container & (2) CLEAR but not necessarily clean water. That’s why the pix said drain, but actually… Read more »

Aedes aegypti

Dear Anil & all of you, please take note: this may save life of your family and yourself: Aedes aegypti and Ae albopictus do NOT breed in clogged longkang, river, stream, ground pools, puddles, swamps. They ONLY breed in CONTAINERS- artificial containers (e.g. tin, can, jar, polystryrene containers………) and natural containers(bamboo stumps, coconut husk, leaf axiles……). Please do NOT bark at the wrong tree by insisting that the officials to inspect the longkang. They won’t, as this is best known to them. And forget about what half baked “experts” keep harping that the govt is not doing its job by… Read more »

pavlova

Dear Anil, Thought you might like an update on the GM mosquito issue. I personally wrote my objection to the Department of Biosafety. This is the reply I get after two weeks: IMRs response to your comment Male mosquitoes do not bite, cannot bite, and therefore cannot spread any disease. Besides, these sterile male mosquitoes cannot spread and establish themselves in the environment, and male Aedes aegypti cannot cross-breed with any other species of mosquitoes or with any other organisms. The IMR has successfully completed laboratory and semi-field cage studies on the sterile male mosquitoes that are proposed for release.… Read more »

Aedes aegypti

Then, what is the solution to dengue & chikungunya? Dengue Vaccine is still god-knows- how-many-years away, anti-viral treatment is nowhere to be seen & the latest body count this year is 103 DEAD patients, mind you, DEAD people, compared to 88 whole of last year. How many more body counts you need to change your couldn’t-care-less, cold-blooded attitude? I know it is always the other guys that will get dengue and/or chikungunya, not me, so let’s be the heros/heriones to fight these “big, corrupted” companies out to make a fast buck in GM mosquitoes. The actual fact is, my dear… Read more »

mike

Lets not be too quick or rash, think about this one with the precautionary principle. I saw this re-run story which has been variously promoted in Malaysia since,at least 2007-08, for an outdoor field trial of GE mosquitoes.Incredible,at least you have until Sept 4th, 2010 to make public submissions via civil or spiritual groups or individuals.There has been much hype of gmos though the alteration of animals forms is still years away if there is a real market for this level of risk and experimentation.Scientists sadly have largely lost their neutrality to the commercialised vested interests in an unregulated ‘market’.Some… Read more »

Aedes aegypti

The reason to use GM Ae aegypti is because there is no treatment, no vaccines, nothing else except mosquito control to control dengue. Present control mosquito technology, however, is insufficient to control Aedes & hence dengue is getting out of hand. That’s where GM Aedes comes in. It is a novel method of introducing a single lethal gene to kill the mozzie at the larval stage. There is only a single gene introduced & nothing else. This gene will NOT persist in the population or the environment, as all the mosquito will die off, leaving nothing behind. To date, dengue… Read more »

tunglang

Time will tell. Further argument on GM will never end. The effects of GM on humans are already telling signs we are heading for disasters. (check it yourself on the net). The cumulative effects will only be truly realized when the genetic makeup of the human species will no longer stand up against the onslaught of pandemics unseen in the human history. And we are still glad to be guinea pigs for the greedy corporations who think nothing about human survival in this frail earth. And we are still too naive to trust their reassurances after witnessing the after-effects. H1N1… Read more »

CT

Why not? those who oppose, do you have any effective/safe suggestion to combat dengue? If not, why dont give it a try? Why do we need to always take this ‘objection approach when it come to Government proposal (the fact is, this round with scientific fact!!) ? Why should we ‘against’ all the proposal before we have a clear understanding of it?

tunglang

GM’s Not For You, Not For Me. GM biotechnology came into being mainly for the food production to meet increasing world human population demand. While being a noble idea, scientists are beginning to see GM’s health and biological effects on humans. Such ill-advice from the scientific community of ‘doing it first, regretting later’. This GM thing did happened more than 5000 years ago when pure human species was experimented (cross-breeding) with other ‘genes’ of the unearthly kind. Giants were conceived and propagated in many parts of the earth. Human-animal chimera / hybrid GM were exploited, some ending in biological disasters.… Read more »

Aedes aegypti

Hi, guys, I’m the mosquito Ae aegypti. Thanks a lot for your support and objection to the use of GM Ae aegypti mosquito. This really helps to protect us from extinction from this beautiful country filled with plenty of human blood like you & also your best friend, the dengue virus. We really hope to give you the gift of dengue virus and also my good friend, chikungunya virus as soon as we can, but first we got to send this gift of dengue/chikungunya to your family, your love ones, your neighbour and not forgeting our friends in Third World… Read more »

melakan

Yes. More and more houses have their drains covered nowadays, perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes! Moreover, the major drains around our area has never been dry, not even a single day. Obviously blockages somewhere. The Bandaraya workers never clear the drains.
The numerous abandon premises, especially the old leaky ones, is another problem.
Come on, look into these problems before you jump into GM mosquitoes.
Nature is fragile and balanced by itself. Off set the balance means you are inviting trouble!!
Don’t make us Melakans guinea pigs.

tunglang

Have we considered the ecological backlash from the total eradication of mosquitoes?

What will happen to the natural food chain that nature is designed such that any species that is taken out will adversely affect the other species down the food chain?
Of course we human would like to be Malaria-free, but can we consider other options like developing a better vaccine to counter Malaria?

Nature is not for us to fool around with!

Sean

The drains are an obvious first job to tackle, aren’t they? I’ve often wondered what to do about them, but I can’t see an easy solution. If they were covered, I expect that would just make them safer breeding grounds – I have found mosquitoes breeding in the trap underneath my bathroom handbasin here, flying in and out of the plughole. Covered drains would still need ‘breathers’, so mosquitoes would still be able to fly in and out. One feature of suburban life which always bothered me in the UK is the abundance of food-chain-independent predators. Many of the mosquitoes’… Read more »

Flyer168

Anil, Letter written from London by the Rothschilds to their New York agents introducing their banking method into America: “The few who can understand the system will be either so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favours, that there will be no opposition from that class… While, on the other hand, that great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that Capital derives from the system, will bear its burden without complaint and, perhaps, without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests” – Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild “Give me control of… Read more »

Joshua

After what Mosanto did in the US (and the rest of the world), our all knowing government is inviting the corporate gene tech company to do it here. True that field studies are needed but do we really need GM mosquitoes? Its using a cannonball to kill a sparrow. It unleashes a pandoras box of who knows what next. Its already bad enough that we have to rely on GM crops for food, now this? We need proper urban planning and social medical care. Not some quick fix using a mutated bug.

semuanya OK kot

Another u-turn after an earlier statement that it would be dropped, just like the Green Dam for Internet.

KOK Yoon Lee

I actually support GM experiments. After all, it is but an extension of what farmers and breeders have been doing for centuries. Done properly, GM has the potential to change the world for the better.

However, the problem is inadvertent side effects. Look at the release of rabbits and the subsequent release of foxes in Australia.

To me, the issue is how much can we trust our scientists.

Sean

“it is but an extension of what farmers and breeders have been doing for centuries” No, that’s a very basic error. What farmers and breeders do is called ‘husbandry’: they influence plant and animal reproduction to increase the prevalence of a desirable (to them) trait that is NATURALLY OCCURRING in their breeding stock. The influence is very small. For sheep it consists of separating the ewes and rams and only allowing a ram who has the traits you desire to ‘see’ the ewes. Establishing a single trait in a herd might take generations of sheep, or even generations of farmers.… Read more »

Toolan

Goodness gracious! Don’t they ever learn! If it’s something that they cannot contain(in the event something goes wrong), don’t do the experiment! I just recovered from a denggi experience and I can tell you, it is something you wouldn’t like to try in your life time! How can these so call researchers even think to trying something like these? What is the main purpose of the experiment? Just to see how long these GM pest can live? For such a simple test must they release it into a live environment? Is this part of the plan to eradicate denggi? What… Read more »

Gerakan K

Why don’t release GM mosquitoes ???

Maybe we can achieve the world first in curbing dengue totally !!!

Jonathan

Ha! ha1 What a … joke…

It just goes to show how far behind our Ministry of Health fellas and IMR are in the battle against dengue. Give me two years and I promise you I will wipe out Dengue in Malaysia…but first I want this government and half the Ministry officials out…

DannyLoHH

The GM non-biting male mosquitoes were supposed to die out bringing along their offspring. The strategy is to release a great number of GM sterile (yes, impotent) male mosquitoes, when these mosquitoes mated with female mosquitoes they produce larvae that dies rather than metamorphose to mosquitoes. But since these strain of GM mosquitoes would die out, the scientist needed to do actual field study to find out how fast is the dying out rate in the wild. They have data of the GM mosquitoes dying out rate in the lab, but they needed actual field data. That’s what I learned… Read more »

pavlova

Is there a way that we send our comments collectively from this blog?

Perhaps if we could collate all the comments and submissions and send it to the Biosafety department?

LeeWatdem

“The trial is aimed at finding out how long these GM mosquitoes will live and how far they will disperse compared to the wild type non-GM mosquitoes.”
….Holy cow, they don’t even know how long these mosquitoes will live? Is it that difficult to find out? This statement alone just proves how dodgy our researches are. This exercise could lead to a super strain of mosquitoes.