Biosafety Concerns Involving Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Combat Malaria and Dengue in Developing Countries
Graciela R. Ostera
Lawrence O. Gostin
Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law
March 15, 2011
Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 305, No. 9, pp. 930-31, 2011
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-28
Malaria and dengue are the most prevalent mosquito-borne infections worldwide. Because traditional vector control methods have proven to be insufficient to control mosquito populations in endemic areas, scientists are actively working in the design of new strategies, such as genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes, to reduce disease transmission. The replacement of natural populations with GM mosquitoes is becoming a tangible possibility, however, many fear that the release of these organisms into the environment could constitute a significant risk to biodiversity and may cause the unintended spread of GM organisms across national borders.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement originally intended to oversee the trade of GM crops, did not include specific provisions for the safe use of GM insects. Recently, the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management to the Conference of the Parties, provided guidelines on the use of GM arthropods for the control of human disease. However, these guidelines did not address some significant technical and safety issues associated with the use of genetically or biologically modified vectors.
A new global treaty, specifically intended to address issues related to genetic or biological modifications of arthropod vectors seem to be necessary before we endorse the decision of releasing modified arthropod vectors into the natural environment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: malaria prevention, dengue prevention, mosquitoes, public health
JEL Classification: K00, K32, I10, I12, I18
Date posted: March 21, 2011