Meeting on GM Mosquito release

A genetically modified adult mosquito emerges from its pupa. – PHOTO: OXITEC

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit and biotechnology company Oxitec are inviting the public to attend a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the planned release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay.

The meeting will take place at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School at 7 p.m.

Residents are invited to learn more about the new mosquito control measures that will be rolled out in West Bay.

Oxitec and the Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit recently announced a new plan to fight Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue, Zika and chikungunya, to prevent the threat of these diseases in Grand Cayman.

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit is planning a multi-phase rollout of Oxitec’s solution to tackle the mosquito.

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The first phase of the project will include a series of activities to inform the community about the program. Over two months, Oxitec and MRCU staff will provide information to residents about the program, how the solution works and its effectiveness.

The next phase will be deployment of Oxitec’s solution, initially to treat an area with about 1,800 residents in West Bay, while an equivalent area without the Oxitec treatment will be used for comparison. Then, subject to appropriate approvals and funding, the goal of the program is to expand across the remainder of the island to reduce the population of the dangerous mosquitoes and help eliminate the diseases they carry.

Light refreshments will be served.

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  1. My wife and I went to a similar meeting hosted by the National Trust a few days ago.

    It was explained that there are some 36 species of mosquito in Grand Cayman. The most common being the swamp mosquito. About 8 of these species target humans.

    But only the female mosquito bites, who need the blood to nourish their eggs. Male mosquitoes feed on nectar.

    The GM insect is only one species, Aedes aegypti. While it definitely is a disease carrier, those diseases are not present in Grand Cayman.

    Nor is this species, Aedes aegypti, very common here.

    The intent is that the genetically modified males will mate with females, who will then produce eggs that do not develop.
    The genes of these male mosquitoes are altered in the lab by splicing in sections of Herpes and E Coli genes.

    The eggs produced are different sizes, so the lab separates the male eggs from the female. Keeping only the male eggs. However inevitably some GM female eggs sneak through.

    I do not believe tests have been done to determine what happens if the GM females are released and mate with healthy males.

  2. Very good point Norman, I also think that a big enough test has not been done .
    I don’t understand why the government is in such a rush to use GM mosquitoes released on Cayman . Why the government is not trying to get down to the root and cause of the mosquitoes problem , I am sure that the mosquitoes problem is not what it was in the 50s , and it was controlled manually.
    But we don’t know what effects the spray has caused to people then , but with today’s research and technology that is put into mosquitoes spray . We should feel better about using the spray than using the GM mosquitoes.

  3. One thing I forgot to add.

    The common swamp mosquito bites usually at dusk or evening.

    This Aedes aegypti mosquito bites during the day and NOT at dusk or in the evening.

    So just avoiding the twilight hours won’t help anyone avoid being bitten by these potential disease carriers.

    They also prey solely on humans and hang around human homes. They are not found in swamps or ponds. Also their flying range is not as long as the common swamp mosquito.

    According to the expert they bounce around skittishly when trying to bite. So harder to swat.