Rethink plan to release GM mosquitoes

THE Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is shocked to note the statement by the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, as reported by the media yesterday, that field testing for genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes has been approved by the National Biosafety Board.

This, despite the globally acknowledged fact that anything that is genetically modified, plant or animal, is not stable.

CAP has submitted its concerns to the National Biosafety Board on the use of GM mosquitoes in the fight against the dengue-causing Aedes mosquito, and has appealed to the board to reconsider its decision.

The Minister should reveal the grounds on which the biosafety board approved the release of the mosquitoes into a “controlled environment”.  Just what is meant by “controlled environment” is not clear at all, for the mosquito is so tiny that as it flies, it can swiftly disappear from one’s view.

The Minister was also quoted to have said “everything was clear from his side”.  We feel that it is his moral obligation to explain to all concerned Malaysians what he meant by saying that “everything is clear”.

The Minister further went on to say that the matter was now under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which would submit the plan to the Cabinet for final approval.

Calls were made for the submission of comments, but no effort was made to debate this important issue with civil society.

We fear that if the Cabinet is not sufficiently briefed, or has insufficient knowledge about GM and genetically engineered (GE), plants and animals, then we are indeed headed for deep trouble!

Letter to the Editor, 13 October 2010