Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 4, 2008

‘Warrior mosquitoes’ will not be released in Pulau Ketam

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:59 am

NST: KANGAR: The Health Ministry will not allow the release of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in Pulau Ketam, Selangor in a bid to combat the dengue scourge.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the ministry would conduct another study tofind other ways of carrying out the research, which is being conducted by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and a company partly owned by the University of Oxford.
“It is research which has been proven successful in the laboratory. But we will conduct another study.
“We will not release the mosquitoes because the findings are still at research-level,” he said when asked about the proposed Pulau Ketam study.
Liow was speaking to reporters after attending the national-level World Health Day launch in Dewan 2020 here.
The study involves releasing GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry killer genes, to mate with female Aedes mosquitoes at Pulau Ketam.
Laboratory tests, conducted over the past year, have shown that the method could kill Aedes mosquitoes.
Only the female Aedes mosquito can transmit the dengue fever virus.
Liow said the ministry would consider the views of residents near Pulau Ketam, an island 30 minutes by boat from Port Klang.
“The people of Pulau Ketam have been saying that the mosquitoes would be released on the island.
“The ministry would not do such a thing.”
The New Sunday Times reported last week that the IMR and British bio-tech company, Oxitec Ltd would release these male “warrior mosquitoes” in Pulau Ketam off Selangor.
However, environmental non-governmental organisations fear that releasing these GM mosquitoes in the wild may affect the ecosystem and cause further damage.
On dengue prevention, Liow said the ministry needed the help of local councils, NGOs and the people to maintain cleanliness to prevent the spread of the disease.
He said about 13,000 dengue cases were reported between January and April this year. Of that number, 35 were in Perlis.
The number had decreased by 23 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Liow urged the people to take care of their health in light of the uncertain global climate.
He said climate change was interrelated with common Malaysian diseases such as malaria, dengue and leptospirosis, which usually occurs during floods.
He said the ministry focused on preventive and control measures when it came to diseases brought about by natural disasters.

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