For related articles and more information please visit OCA’s Resource Center on Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and our Millions Against Monsanto Campaign.
Malaysia is on the brink of field testing GE mosquitoes in a small town in the state of Pahang, a short distance from Kuala Lumpur.
Preparations are said to be underway to release the GE mosquitoes, first, in an uninhabited area and subsequently, in an inhabited area. Another proposed site for the field experiment is in the state of Melaka.
This is despite an outpouring of concern by scientists, civil society organizations, local inhabitants and individuals who have expressed their reservations with regard to the health and environmental effects of this untested GE organism. Furthermore, the lack of transparency with regards the manner in which the process of field testing is conducted is also an issue of concern. As of date it is unclear if the inhabitants of the proposed site have given their consent, which is required under the terms and condition for the release.
Under the field trial, genetically engineered male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (OX513A) will be released and studied and if the experiment is successful, the GE mosquitoes may later be used as part of a programme to curb dengue in Malaysia, a disease which is currently rampant in the country. The GE mosquitoes are genetically engineered to include two new traits: fluorescence and conditional lethality. The fluorescence trait acts as a marker for the GE mosquitoes. When the GE male mosquitoes mate with females in the wild, the conditional lethality trait will be passed on to the offspring and the resulting mosquito larvae will die, provided this happens in the absence of the antibiotic tetracycline.