Thursday, December 22, 2011

Florida’s GE mosquito threat

Floridians face genetically engineered mosquito threat
By Eric hoffman
Friends of the Earth
December 21, 2011 / Posted by:

A private firm is planning to release potentially harmful genetically engineered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys as early as January, endangering human health and the environment in what would become the first-ever U.S. release of these engineered bugs.

The genetically engineered mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, are produced by UK-based biotechnology company Oxitec so their offspring will die at a young age in an effort to lower mosquito populations and limit the spread of dengue fever. While attempts to limit the spread of disease are laudable, health, environmental and ethical challenges face what would be the first-ever release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the U.S.

Genetically engineered mosquitoes have already been released by Oxitec in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil. Despite claims that its mosquitoes are sterile and have eradicated dengue fever the mosquitoes are in fact fertile and Oxitec has never successfully eradicated dengue fever from any population. The company has only shown its technology can reduce mosquito populations in the immediate term in controlled settings. Oxitec has not proven such population reductions lead to disease eradication.

The United States could be the next testing ground for Oxitec. The company plans to release its genetically engineered mosquitoes in Key West as early as January 2012 – pending regulatory approval. Oxitec intends to release 5,000 to 10,000 genetically engineered mosquitoes over a two week period into an undisclosed 36-square-acre block – likely near the Key West Cemetery.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

GE fungus to fight malaria

Scientists make transgenic fungus to fight malaria
By Kate Kelland
February 24, 2011

LONDON - Using genetically modified fungi to infect mosquitoes that harbor malaria parasites could be an effective way to control the spread of malaria, researchers said on Thursday.

Scientists from Britain and the United States inserted the genes of human antibodies or scorpion toxins into a fungus called Metarhizium anisopliae that infects mosquitoes. They found that certain combinations of them were able to stop the development of malaria-causing parasites in the mosquitoes.

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said the approach could become an environmentally friendly way of fighting malaria, and might also be used to control other insect- or bug-borne diseases such as dengue fever or Lyme disease.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trial for GM mozzies

IMR completes field trial for GM mozzies
The Star Online
January 27, 2011

PETALING JAYA: The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has completed one run of its field trial involving genetically-modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at a forest near Bentong, Pahang.

IMR director Dr Shahnaz Murad said the institute released about 6,000 GM mosquitoes at the site on Dec 21, along with a similar number of normal male mosquitoes.

“The experiment was successfully concluded on Jan 5,” she said in a press statement here yesterday.

“Fogging with insecticide was conducted on Jan 6 to eliminate all mosquitoes but monitoring will continue for up to two months,” she said.

Dr Shahnaz said no further release of GM mosquitoes was planned until the post-trial monitoring was completed and the results analysed and presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals and meetings.

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