This week, the Cayman Compass has published two news stories and an editorial regarding concerns raised by Mosquito Research and Control Unit scientists about the accuracy of claims made by private company Oxitec as to the effectiveness of a genetically modified mosquito trial program in West Bay.
The stories, based on government emails released in response to an open records request, drew responses by both Oxitec and the Cayman Islands government, seeking to clarify and/or correct what they feel to be inaccuracies in, or misinterpretations of the emails. On Wednesday, we published verbatim the response from Oxitec. Today, we publish verbatim the response from government.
The government’s response includes a statement from Deputy Chief Officer Nancy Barnard, formerly the interim director of MRCU.
On Wednesday, Ms. Barnard met with members of the Editorial Board. She took strong exception to descriptions used in Wednesday’s editorial about her response to concerns raised by MRCU Assistant Director Alan Wheeler – who, in today’s government statement, commends Ms. Barnard for renegotiating successfully government’s contract with Oxitec.
Ms. Barnard emphasized that in her October 2017 email to Dr. Wheeler, she was strictly observing that it would be incorrect to attribute sole authorship of a report to Oxitec, rather than MRCU, because while Oxitec had contributed significantly to the report, the report had been signed off on by MRCU.
Ms. Barnard also emphasized her track record of honesty and commitment to transparency, providing several examples of such conduct in her career in government and the nonprofit sector.