What if someone suddenly told you that you were an involuntary participant in a science experiment that started a year ago?
Thanks to an international announcement that GM mosquitoes were released in the Cayman Islands a year ago, without public knowledge or consent, many scientists and citizens are experiencing that unique blend of shock and dismay.
SciDev reports: “The trial of the OX513A strain of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, developed by UK biotechnology company Oxitec, was carried out on Grand Cayman island by the Cayman Islands’ Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) in 2009, followed by a bigger release between May and October this year.”
According to the article, this experiment constituted the first known release of GM mosquitoes anywhere in the world.
Apparently, the purpose of the study was to discover a method for controlling mosquitoes and the transmission of disease, like dengue fever, which recently resurfaced in Miami.
Although the researchers claim that they recieved proper approval from several Cayman Islands’ government departments before the release, and that there was a newspaper article and public consultation, this is the first time that many in the community are hearing about it.
Oxitec is reporting an 80 percent reduction in the wild mosquito population during the course of the experiment.
It is not yet known if there will be long term negative effects of the mosquito’s presence for either humans or wildlife in the Cayman Islands.
Image Credit: Flickr - dr_relling