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Mutant mosquitoes: Malaysia release of genetically modified insects sparks fears of uncontrollable new species

January 27, 2011 Comments off

Malaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever.

The field test is meant to pave the way for the official use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring with shorter lives, thus curtailing the population.

Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, which killed 134 people in Malaysia last year.

Malaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue feverMalaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into a forest in a bid to curb rates of dengue fever 

However, the plan has sparked criticism by some Malaysian environmentalists, who fear it might have unforeseen consequences, such as the inadvertent creation of uncontrollable mutated mosquitoes.

Critics also say such plans could leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases.

A similar trial in the Cayman Islands last year – the first time genetically modified mosquitoes Read more…