75,000 GM mosquitoes destroyed

| 15/07/2016 | 143 Comments
Cayman News Service

Genetically modified mosquitoes are placed in a freezer by Dr Renaud Lacroix from Oxitec

(CNS): A batch of genetically engineered mosquitoes reared specifically for release yesterday have been destroyed. A last minute application to the court by a group of local activists managed to put a temporary stop on the planned release of the GM Aedes aegypti bio-engineered by the UK-based company, Oxitec, in partnership with the Mosquito Research and Control Unit. A legal hearing has been fixed for next Tuesday but Oxitec’s Dr Renaud Lacroix said the insects that had been hatched for the first release in West Bay would begin to die. Even if the stay is lifted next week, most of them would already be dead so the batch was no longer viable, he explained.

While few people are grieving the loss of tens of thousands of insects, MRCU Director Dr Bill Petrie told CNS that their destruction raises concern for the project, which was supposed to see the start of the release in West Bay Thursday. He said the MRCU had been given a licence to undertake this release and import a specific number of the GM mosquito eggs. The stay means the project is now 75,000 eggs down before even one bug has been released.

“Our permits allow us to import and release a particular amount and this batch has been lost from the whole programme,” he said. “If it’s a short delay then it is not too much of a problem … but a lengthy delay could be quite damaging for the project and public health.”

He explained that the cost of the batch that has been wasted will be borne by Oxitec rather than the MRCU because at present the pilot project is a collaboration, where Oxitec are supplying the eggs and technology and the MRCU the equipment and other support resources.

Dr Petrie said he was completely convinced that the release would be 100% safe and that this could be the solution to the mounting problem of Aedes aegypti, which is an invasive species of mosquito.

In the past, the MRCU had managed to keep the dangerous bugs at bay as the unit focused on the ports of entry and used larvasides when it appeared in containers, but from 2000 onwards, the numbers began to grow.

However, the post Hurricane Ivan situation in 2004 created the perfect environment for one of the world’s most worrying public health problems to flourish and the Aedes aegypti became a permanent fixture.

“We recorded a 13 fold increase in the rise Aedes aegypti after Ivan because of the debris and rainfall,” Dr Petrie said. “It’s been a challenge since then.”

Given that the mosquitoes lives so close to humans and it transmits a long list of challenging viruses and disease including chikungunya, yellow fever and zika, so finding a way to decrease the insect has long been a post-Ivan priority for the MRCU.

The MRCU’s aerial lavarside initiative, with the help of local bats and other creatures who dine on the more succulent indigenous mosquitoes, have proved successful at controlling the local swamp bugs that do not transmit disease, but spraying programmes are far less effective against the Aedes aegypti.

Dr Petrie said the unit had been looking at alternative technologies and the Oxitec project, the research for which began at Oxford University, was one that they paid close attention to. He said there was never any hard sell to Cayman and the MRCU had reached out to them after following the work they were doing.

“We learned about the technology from conferences,” he explained. “Once we looked into it, we found the science was sound. The research aspects and practicalities of what could be done were encouraging. Our view… and the scientific consensus is that it is entirely safe and we would not embark on it if it wasn’t,” Petrie said, noting that there are no pesticides involved and he was “absolutely” convinced it was 100% safe.

But Not everyone is convinced and there is considerable suspicion about Oxitec and their claims about the bio-engineered mosquitoes. This has resulted in the application to the courts to overturn the licence granted to the MRCU by the National Conservation Council.

Local activists have pointed to a lack of independent research to support Oxitec’s claims and the failure of the authorities here to engage in public consultation before signing up to the project. The group filed an application for judicial review this week and the Grand Court issued a stay until Tuesday, when the case will be aired before a judge, who will decide if the licence was issued in accordance with the law. The courts won’t decide on the science but whether or not the legal process and due consideration was given by government and the NCC before the licence was granted.

The release that was scheduled to begin this week would have seen the first batch of GM sterile mosquitoes released around the North West Point area of West Bay.

The vast majority of mosquitoes released are males, which don’t bite, but there is a small percentage of biting females in every batch. These males would then mate with the wild females, who in turn produce offspring that don’t survive, thereby dramatically reducing the population. Given that the life cycle of a mosquito is only a matter of weeks, the scientists hope that a targeted sustained release over a few months will come close to eradicating the invasive bug.

Petrie said the unit was hoping this delay would be short to enable the scientists and researchers to start the release and what could prove to be the beginning of the end for the Aedes aegypti in Cayman.

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Category: Health, Land Habitat, Medical Health, Science & Nature

Comments (143)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The claims and counter claims on this topic are starting to become so tangled that I for one am not sure of what exactly the concerns are. I agree that questions should be answered especially if those concerns are about safety. I have gone through the comments page here and on other news items and have seen many comments and concerns that could be easily answered:

    Male mosquitoes do not bite.
    If you eat an apple its DNA does not merge with your own DNA.
    The GM mosquito is not the size of a vulture.

    I would appreciate a clear list of remaining questions and concerns that could then be sent to Oxitec and MRCU for a response. Maybe MRCU could post the questions and responses on their website. This could then be updated if new concerns are raised. It would be good if Mr. Dwene Ebanks could kindly submit a list of the specific concerns he has. I have looked at the facebook page that he runs but again I cannot see exactly what his concerns are. Maybe he could also post them in short point form on his Facebook page so that we can all see what the issues are. It is by clear and open discussion that people can learn and reach their own conclusions.

    • anonymous says:

      How about an apple which DNA was tweaked with e.coli and herpes?

    • David Shibli says:

      Respectfully, you make statements, but you don’t provide much input.
      Just to help my original point a little, here you go.


      Just in case, you have no desire to look it up, here is a snippet, “Prior to this year, governments concluded that transfer of DNA from GM crops/foods is unlikely to occur. Now we can see that they are wrong, or perhaps they had knowledge of this already? ”

      You shot me down with a one-liner.
      I have no problem with that, but back yourself up a little.

      I think this open dialogue that is taking place on CNS is excellent. This should have happened a long time ago.

      At the end of the day, someone is right, someone is wrong or we are both wrong.
      Where we are both right, I think, is that we both want what is best for Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Brilliant comeback Shibli coupled with logic and fact.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well then, you had better not eat anything with genes in it. They can get into your bloodstream, you know. Then you start turning into an apple.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are plants that repel mosquitoes. Few drops of some essential oils in water will protect you and your loved ones from mosquitoes bites. It is a safe and it works. Why not to promote this? Why not plant those plants everywhere?

    In times when mosquitoes would eat a cow alive, how often did you have Zika and how many deformed babies were born?

    You can call me a quack and a whacko and a kook and all that, but the truth of the matter is that mocking and discrediting someone because his comments challenge your belief system is childish.

    And may you have a day full of contentment.

    • Anonymous says:

      The driver of economy is new idea. Here is an idea. Why would not someone start exploring the possibility of starting a distillation business for essential oils? The world is moving away from toxic chemicals in food, home care,health care, body care etc.
      The demand is growing. The demand for authentic, unadulterated essential oils.
      Take the essential oils that repel mosquitoes for example. Do research to see which plants can be grown in the Cayman Islands in the qualities sufficient for the meaningful output of essential oils. Selling essential oils to visitors directly by the distiller would guarantee the quality of the product and therefore increase the demand. 99% of the oils sold on Amazon are synthetic, adulterated and diluted. Using essential oils to kill mosquitoes larvae island(s) wide would increase the demand for a product further.
      Some highly prized essential oils are produced in quantities less than 1 liter per year and are sold by a fraction of an ounce at the price hardly anyone can afford, yet, they are sold in advance.

      So may be instead of shoving unemployable people down to private business’s throat the CI government would teach them new things such as this one for example? Bring experts who will teach people how to distill plants for oils, the entire process- it is an Art that will take time to acquire.

      And always do a market assessment for your business idea.

      • David Shibli says:

        Very positive input. It is known for example that bay leaf oil is kryptonite to cockroaches.

        There are also benefits to the neem tree products. See here.

        I am sure that there are man other avenues we can explore without resorting to such drastic measures as spraying the populace with carcinogens or tampering with the genetic code of mosquitoes.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t realize Cayman was full of all these scientists! Please just let them release the mosquitos and do their job.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There are several good comments posted over the weekend. Thank you guys!
    David Shibli says:
    17/07/2016 at 2:13 am
    Anonymous says:
    17/07/2016 at 3:28 pm
    Anonymous says:
    16/07/2016 at 9:06 pm

    • Anonymous says:

      Just wait until Shibli links this to the freemasons, and then you will see some good comments.

      • David Shibli says:

        Perhaps you have already done so? I really don’t care for or about your freemasons. If someone chooses that path for their life, well good luck with that.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If genetically modified mosquitoes crash the population, what will the impacts be on the ecosystem? What about animals higher in the food chain like bats and birds that eat mosquitoes?
    How the health of species that eat mosquitoes will be affected by ingesting GM mosquitoes, DNA of which was tweaked with DNA of deadly bacteria and a virus?
    Why would we need GM mosquitoes produced by a private company? We already have mosquito control programs that work.
    Is eliminating mosquitoes even possible?
    Would a more dangerous creature fill the mosquitoes’ void?
    Aristotle once said, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

    • Anonymous says:

      As I understand it the Aedes aegypti mosquito is an invasive species arriving in Cayman in the early 2000’s. As such it cannot be considered an essential component of the foodchain. Native species thrived without it being here and will continue to do so if it is eliminated. The Oxitec technique targets only this one species and will therefor have no impact on other mosquito species that form part of the foodchain. As such the Oxitec technique offers an advantage over traditional chemical control methods.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The funny thing is that these same “chicken little” campaigners would be the first to blame everyone else and the government in particular if they get infected with a mosquito-borne disease.

    • anonymous says:

      The funny thing is that grown up people who resort to name calling have mentality of a child.

      • Candie says:

        Yet, the poster doing the name-calling has better grammar skills than you do 6:35am; re-read your sentence.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good Day,

    I believe to be fair and just plain safe and transparent that if this genetic test with the mosquitoes is a definite plus and benefit to the Cayman Islands population, then there should be no harm or ill-will if those involved are willing to discuss and provide solid evidence of its pros and cons for those in the Cayman Islands and visiting the Cayman Islands.

    If it is truly a positive, then continue to research and educate the public. To not do so, only rightfully scares the public. If there is nothing to hide, then share as much as is possible with the public and let them come to a conclusion in the best interests of all.

    To asks questions that you don’t know the answers to, is not ignorance or saying you are adamant against something. If you don’t know the answers and don’t ask for answers to those who should and do know the answers is in my opinion ignorance. If you know the answer and someone asks you a question that you are able to answer, why label them as ignorant or against something when they are simply trying to get a better grasp on an issue that they don’t know about.

    Since this issue will or could impact the whole population or some indefensible in a population, then asks as many questions to those who claim to have the answers. Ask away and learn. Answer as best as possible to each question if you do know the answers. If this is good, then give answers and not sarcasm. If it is good then there should be no problem in answering questions. Please stop the criticism of a young man and others who have the sense to ask questions that will affect the whole population of these islands. They are brave to even stand up and ask where some have not even taken the time to say “Wait, I have some questions. Can you comment on such and such?”

    They show valour. Let the experts answer if it is really good for all. A delay is better than to plunge ahead and enter into an unknown and possible regret. If there is nothing to hide and all is positive then answer the questions and all will be well.

    The public DOES have a right to know. The public does have a right to ask. The public does have a right to hear the answers. Let the questioners ask. Let those with the answers give them so all will understand and say: “It is good for us all. Let us proceed.” To do less is understandably suspicious.

    May we all learn and share what we learn. May we take the time to ask. May we take the time to answer. May we take the time to be transparent and deal with very real concerns for all.

    God bless you all.

    The Bee

  8. tv says:

    At first, I was upset that they didn’t release the batch. Now as I am reading the article – how could there be no third party research done on such a huge undertaking? That alone makes me wonder about the whole project. Someone call Dart.

  9. David Shibli says:

    Scientists know full well that DNA is the software responsible for running in the construct that we call the physical universe.
    For example, an apple is identified scientifically by its DNA. When its code runs in the construct, it has a defined purpose, a contribution to the state of whatever it comes into contact with. Built into the DNA of the apple is not just the code that makes us perceive it as an apple, but also the qualities that it transfers to us when we ingest it. We have given this process a name. We call it nutrition. However, it is much more than this.
    It is a fusion of the apple DNA with our DNA and because the apple as a fruit is known to be nutritious, our being experiences health as a result of our machines (or bodies) processing the program known as apple.

    Scientists also know that genetic code can be switched on and off or even modified. Effectively, this is taking the original code and tampering with it.

    I have written a lot of software in my time. It is not a simple thing to take someone else’s code and modify it without a complete understanding of the purpose of the original code.
    A small, innocuous tweak in one area can cause unforeseen knock-on effects in other areas of the program.

    Here is another thing I know about all the software that I have come into contact with. It is all written and structured by its creator to perform specific functions. In fact, in the software engineering component of my degree course, we were taught that no software should be written without a “Functional Requirements Specification” document, (FRS).

    The astronomer, Fred Hoyle surmised that to consider the possibility of DNA arising by chance would be like a tornado going through a junk yard and assembling an aircraft.

    In his book, “River Out Of Eden”, published in 1995, Richard Dawkins stated that “the machine code of genes is uncannily computer-like.”

    In a nutshell, we are all presented with the same dilemma. Where did the DNA of our universe and all of its contents come from?
    I would simply not recommend tampering with the DNA of the mosquitoes by genetically modifying them.
    My reasoning is that no scientist on earth can have possibly processed all the possible permutations and combinations of what will happen when the program known as GM Mosquito runs inside the sub-construct known as the Eco-System of Planet Earth.

    Friends, I work with technology every day see its benefits and am certainly no Luddite, but I would advise us all to tread with extreme caution in this matter. This is why I am against the release of GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands.

    Thanks for your time.

    David Shibli

    • anonymous says:

      Thank you David

    • Shibli's Bane says:

      “It is a fusion of the apple DNA with our DNA”

      Caymanian Biomedical Scientist here – this is false. Our DNA does not merge with food DNA upon consumption. Molecules are broken down and absorbed, that’s it.

      • David Shibli says:

        Then perhaps you can explain the epidemic of cancer in this world (and indeed the Cayman Islands) since we have been consuming bio-engineered foods and exposing ourselves to supposedly benign chemicals all sold to us by the wonderful, caring scientists who work for Big Pharma? I am not even mentioning their vast sales and marketing machine.
        How about some input? If you have something important to say, please say it and there is no need to be insulting.

  10. Unison says:

    Seriously … supporting a government that fails to carry out an independent risk assessment! Supporting a quiet bunch that has failed to publicly consult the people before approving the legislation of these experiments!
    Supporting special interest it seems, are afraid of the people learning too much, asking questions, democratic processes, and opposing their plans!?

    And then rediculously … bringing up “what ifs” Zika kill us all. Plain ole fear-mongering to instill fear on the public in order to push through these experiments that are being used by commercial interest for their profiteering reasons???

    Moreover, making indirect threats it seems against Dwene Ebanks … smh … this is not good! Not the Cayman I know. Some of you commenters got to do better than that. If you love your country you will love democracy and transparency from your government!


  11. Shelly C. says:

    Release the Kraken!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Are plans now made for the second release site in South Sound?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think that it is only good common sense to ask the relevant questions in relation to something of this magnitude. I know some of the petitioners and I know that they intelligent people who must have reasonable concerns about the severity of such an important event. Even a genius asks questions as ignorance is of no benefit to anyone and you cannot always believe everything you hear. I think that the interests of the Cayman people are at the forefront of their minds and nothing else. The possibility of an experiment gone wrong is very real and has happened before so I don’t think it is so wrong to ask a few questions before just accepting and allowing a few million mosquitoes to be let loose in the district you live in.

  14. MM says:

    The world is fighting GMO fruits, veg and various GMO foods and here we are wanting to release biting, GMO mosquitos…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Try a google search of the term “herpes genetically modified”. The results are very interesting. Why is nobody complaining about this cure for skin cancer? I wonder how many anti GM Luddites would turn down the treatment if they had skin or any other form of cancer that is being treated using genetic engineering techniques.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Based on Oxitec’s and the government’s surreptitious way of handling this dubious experiment, I highly doubt the veracity of this statement.
    The headline should read, “Oxitec claims to have destroyed 75,000 GM mosquitoes.”

    If they want transparency, they should involve non-partisan members of the public or at least some folk from both sides of the argument.

    Just because a press release is made, it does not mean it is true.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well genius, since the releases (of tens of thousands) were to start on Thursday, the stop order was issued on Wednesday, and the larvae take more than a week to develop from eggs, why would you “highly doubt” the veracity of this statement? Caymanians are employed in their lab and can no doubt back up the claim. Why would they lie, when it would only undermine their credibility?

      • Anonymous says:

        What credibility?

      • Anonymous says:

        Well let’s ask a few Caymanians who are not employed by them. It may be time to gently remove those rose-tinted spectacles. Nice and easy does it. You will be surprised at what you can see.

  17. anonymous says:

    How easily people go for each other’ throats over differences in opinion is quite frightening .Threats, name calling… Cayman kind at its best.

    • Anonymous says:

      Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are Caymanians I dare say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymankind? Are you reading or watching the world news? Politics & assassinations, pharmaceutical with other commercial greed & human exploitation, development & environmental destruction – all for $$$ and power, go hand in hand and not for lack of protests!
      Maybe Oxitec should try this on the UK population first.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Mr Ebanks I suppose is ready to post bond to pay for legal fees and any damages..

  19. Anonymous says:


  20. Anonymous says:

    What a pity that Dweenie has allowed paranoia and fear to take hold of him. Considering Zika is on the doorstep and is specific to Aedes Egypti mosquito, his decision to delay this may haunt him and more so the many who will contact the dreadful illness … But then again, he has political aspirations so I suspect per normal course of business, fear mongering is right up his ally. Sleep tight Dweenie 🙁

    • It’s such a pity that people can call other people’s names, while being so coward as to hide behind “anonymous”.

      But Dwene isn’t in this because of political aspirations. He’s in this because he had questions…and now he has even more as a result of the uncovered information.

      He asked questions and as a result of that, you attacked him. Why? Because he asked questions? He got lies, he got alarmed – yes, alarmed is a great word, because he had all right to get alarmed; Oxitec’s lies and the contradicting scientific reports on the viability of Oxitec’s self-acclaimed success of the GMM’s is reason for anyone with two bits of sense to become alarmed – and stood up. You’re trying to knock him over; for what?

      Why don’t you stick to the facts that are existent and debate those? Or has that argument been lost by fact and so now fiction and a sharp tongue bounce become partners?

      But, does anyone realise that GMM’s is a NOT an immediate solution to the aA mosquito population and based on Oxigov’s own estimates will take up to 9 months for its full deployment?

      And are you also aware that the government was aware of another treatment option known as the Wolbachia bacteria mosquito, presented in the same WHO report that it throws around the island so loosely? Being aware of it, why didn’t they call in Steven Dobson for a presentation of that treatment and make a sounder decision? And did you know that Wolbachia is a natural approach to this problem? Here are a few links. Don’t take my word for it; look and see for yourself:




      And remember the old addage for wisdom, since that’s the catchphrase these days: When in doubt, ask.

      Visit our page for more information on the options available: https://www.facebook.com/GMMosquitoesNO/?fref=ts

      • LB says:

        Thank you Katina Masura Anglin

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think anyone is against adding Wolbachia to the arsenal for fighting against the against these particular mosquitoes. However, Wolbachia has been in use for over 5 years and it hasn’t eliminated dengue. But perhaps if “Eliminate Dengue” actually succeeded in doing that then they would be out of jobs. Here is a link showing how Wolbachia was used in Queensland 5 years ago and they still worry about dengue and now zika.

        What saddens me is that after all the research that you have done, you would go on TV and imply that the release of these mosquitoes could somehow result in the possibility that mosquitoes the size of small birds would be flying around West Bay.

  21. ExPatriot says:

    How come we are suddenly faced with an outdreak/spread of Chikungunya and Zika virus?
    Where were these virus laden mosquitoes before now or where were these viruses?
    It SEEMS rather coincidental that Chikungunya and Zika are spreading rapidly round about the same time these super mosquitoes are introduced to the market…for sale…in due course.
    Da wha I ga say Bobo. Da no look right

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Using logical arguments or trying to educate these activists is a waste of time. They made up their minds and nothing will change them. It is like arguing with an accountant that 2+2 equals five. They explain to you that it does not but you refuse to believe their answer and assume they are stealing the extra 1

  22. Anonymous says:

    One question, what happens to the females that released?

    • Anonymous says:

      They go to Meringe Town wearing bright skirts and high heels.

    • Don’t ask Oxitec; you won’t get the truth.

      And your government can’t answer it either. It turns out that they are just as uninformed as the rest of the island, based on an analysis recently given in a personal capacity.

      But here’s what we’ve managed to gleaned from their reports:

      The female aA mosquito will be infected with the strains of virus, herpes and e-coli and can bite people, just like all other female mosquitoes do as well.

      The aA mosquito will supposedly die in 2-4 days, even though they can live up to 40 days with a “real”average of 32 days.

      What will happen to the female? Well I’m not sure and neither is Oxitgov.

      But there is another option that the gov isn’t making us aware of : http://www.eliminatedengue.com/our-research/wolbachia

  23. Anonymous says:

    So why were the mozzies destroyed? What are they trying to hide and who’s being paid to push this on us? Go experiment elsewhere with your Frankenstein mozzies!

    • Think of all possibilities says:

      …if there are new cases of Chikungunya, Dengue or Zika… let you be the “first on the front lines” with your righteous rejection of science.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well as they stated above that the mozzies needed to be destroyed because they were dying off already. And would have been dead by next week. 🙂 also I don’t believe they are hiding anything. They welcome the public to come and see the production with their own eyes. Stop being so ignorant.

      • The public should have been made aware of this from months ago and all these questions would have been answered already and an INFORMED CONSENT for or against would have already occurred.

        Instead we’re here proving that the necessary information for this project wasn’t forthcoming, or else we would have understood it already and wouldn’t be here having this discussion.

        Everyone who has questions about this project is coming under attack. Not a good approach to education and liberation through knowledge and understanding.

        And these GMM are not an immediate solution. They’ve already told you that they have a 9-month rollout period.

        MosquitoMate is a better option to address this mosquitoe, based on EVIDENCE:



    • Anonymous says:

      How long do you think mosquitoes live for exactly? Try educate yourself please.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Does the stay only relate to the release in West Bay (which is where most of the opposition seems to be based) or to the whole program. Release it in GT, which I believe was the next stop anyway, people in GT believe more in science and less in mumbo jumbo and are actively interested in not seeing Zika spread through Cayman like other places. People talk about the potential damage to the tourism market if the mozzie plan “goes bad” but what happens when we have dozens of locally transmitted Zika cases? Those hotel rooms, and sting ray city tours, and other local attractions will empty out quick and won’t return nearly as fast as you seem to think. Cuba is going to open up soon, Cayman needs to make hay while the sun shines. And it really seems silly to me that 673 people from WB can endanger every potential pregnant woman’s child like this without researching the facts. The birth defects related to Zika are no joke and can seriously impact many families in Cayman. Just makes me shake my head in shame thinking about some people’s selfishness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Forgive me for being selfish if I don’t want my family being surrounded by something that isn’t a gaurantee— do you know they tried this in Brazil and that’s where Zika pretty much came about??? Hat would make it seem like a failure! Florida also put a stop to this ” experiment”, are they a foolish state as well??? I don’t think so! A decision like this should have been brought to the public so we can get all our questions answered, and the way our government went about it, so secretly, seems a bit alarming!

    • Oxitec is not the only option and as a matter of fact the Wolbachia treatment mosquito option is an evidence based option; not a self-acclaimed theory.

      Do you know that this project with Oxigov will take up to 9 months?

      And if there are mossies that can bite and transmit disease as Oxitec says that it’s females can, do you want to add them in for the pregnant ladies? A GMM with a strain of herpes and e-coli infected with Zika….brilliant.


      Read 2.a: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/news/mosquito_vector_control_response/en/

      The Oxitec mosquito comes second in line to this treatment, but no one wants the country to know this.

      • Anonymous says:

        1) How long does the walbachia mosquito release take to achieve mosquito population resistance?

        2) How far along the ‘proven for release for zika, dengue & yellow fever’ research line is the walbachia process?

        The first question is the same one you ask. So I assume you have an answer.
        The second is your bigger problem pushing walbachia as an alternative treatment for Aa.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Since Oxitec claims to be on the cutting edge of mosquito disease control through genetic modification, I would imagine that they are ripe for investors. Wonder if any of our Government Ministers and MLA’s have invested?

    Oh to be a fly on the wall (or perhaps a mosquito)

    • Anonymous says:

      They are a listed company so your pension plan too might be invested in it

    • Anonymous says:

      From Puerto – The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 25% of the island’s population — over 875,000 people — could contract Zika virus in the first year. The institution has placed Puerto Rico under a Level 2 Alert. A Level 3 Warning is the highest rating, which would instruct people to avoid nonessential travel to the tourism hot spot and likely have disastrous consequences for the local economy. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden also recently noted: “Our birth defects specialists tell us a single child with birth defects can usually cost $10 million to care for or more.”

      Got that Dwene?

      • Anonymous says:

        The fear of the aA mosquito in relation to the CDC/Puerto Rico concern would make sense if the mosquito was the ONLY means of Zika transmission, but it is NOT.

        Zika is a sexually transmitted disease as well, which can survive longer in semen and in saliva than in blood. It’s transmittable even by kissing.

        Eliminating the mosquito doesn’t eliminate the disease.

        There are other effective methods of addressing the aA problem, including Wolbachia treatment for mosquitoes which is a faster more effective way to eliminate the aA population.

        The government doesn’t want you to know that.*

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Sorry. No questions please…

  26. Anonymous says:

    The mosquitoes planned for release are Aedes aegypti but a modified one.

    Can they clarify and show evidence for the following:
    – What is their proof that males doesn’t bite? The vast majority of mosquitoes released are males, which don’t bite. These mosquitos need to eat/suck something to survive just like any living being.

    – but there is a small percentage of biting females in every batch. How would we know that anyone that will bite will not cause the same type of disease that they are supposed to control?

    • Anonymous says:

      Male mosquitoes feed off plants. Females require blood specifically for the formation of eggs. This is the same for all species of mosquitoes and is not something specific to these GM aedes aegypti. So neither Oxitec or the MRCU need to ‘prove’ anything regarding the statement you have highlighted. It’s just a biological fact.
      Your question simply underlines the fact that the knee jerk reaction to anything labelled ‘genetically modified’ stems mainly from people who don’t actually know anything about the science behind what is being done but want to complain, make a fuss and cause a panic anyway. If you educated yourself about what you are complaining about, maybe you wouldn’t be complaining about it in the first place. A little knowledge (or in this case, practically none at all) truly is a dangerous thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said! People just love to moan on this island. There’s a thing called the internet that has a wealth of knowledge about just about everything. All you have to do is type into a search engine ( google) “what do mosquitoes eat” and you will get the answer. It’s so easy! Not sure why the activists can’t do this.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is not ignorance as the people have the right to know the full information prior to the release of the unknown (half or most of it) outcome of the project. Everyone that has question must be satisfied that it is safe and will not cause a harmful side effect.

        Though your comment did not answer my second concern, I see that a risk of the project.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I attended the West Bay meeting to introduce the public to the topic of releasing the genetically-engineered mosquitoes. I went with an open mind and left thinking that the project seemed sound and therefore, supported this approach in favour of the chemical approach – insecticides. Notwithstanding concerns which were raised by some people (subsequently developing into the petition against the project), this approach seemed viable and, according to MRCU and Oxitec, was proven successful in Cayman some 6 – 7 years ago.

    However, about two weeks later, I watched an article on the subject on BBC which featured scientists from Imperial College London, discussing the possibilities of genetically-engineered mosquitoes in eradicating disease-carrying mosquito species. Quite timely, I thought. A scientist from the acclaimed Imperial College acknowledged the concerns of persons who are skeptical of the concept of genetically-engineered mosquitoes and stated unequivocally that their research is ongoing as “it would be unethical to release mosquitoes until the research is proven”.

    This has me thinking that perhaps the Oxitec’s & MRCU’s claims may be overstated or premature. There is no way that Oxitec would have reached a point of success (based on a seven year old application of their concept – their 2009 experiment in Grand Cayman) so as to now pursue that approach with confidence, while Imperial College London is still researching this subject and issuing cautions!! No doubt Imperial College is a more venerable institution than is Oxitec. So how is it that Oxitec is so far ahead of such a notable academic institution??

    This now has me wondering if my confidence in Oxitec’s and MRCU’s approach is misplaced.

    This could certainly lend some credibility to those who’ve petitioned against the project and pressed forward the injunction.

    • Anonymous says:

      An internet search of the following phrase, quoted in your posting provides no hits, other that your assertation.

      I searched this when you first posted weeks/months ago. Same result.

      “it would be unethical to release mosquitoes until the research is proven”.

      Only two local hits – both your posting.

      Actual scientific reference?


    • Anonymous says:

      15/7, at 3:20 pm: I am prepared to face an unknown and possibly non-existent risk in the hope of avoiding the very real threat of having a child with microcephaly. I wonder if we read the fine print about some of the awful side effects that ARE KNOWN to exist with a lot of the medications we so blithely take every day. The Imperial College is saying is acknowledging that there may possibly be some risks. So be it.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree 6:15 pm/16/07 — If this quote from Imperial College is correct — they are acknowledging the possibility of the unknown — and then again there may be no risks at all! In the meantime, we are staring microcephaly in the face — that is own a known risk associated with Aedes egypti. Few things are more devastating and far-reaching that a child with an irreversible mental disabilitity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Imperial are working on a gene drive system for Anopheles mosquitoes to target malaria. Different technique, different vector, different disease.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have searched for, but not found, a BBC programme with anything similar to the above quotation “it would be unethical to release mosquitoes until the research is proven”. If the author (who posted essentially the same thing weeks ago), has a link, kindly post it.

      I urge people that might give credibility to the above comment to listen to the BBC programme linked below. This discusses both the Oxitec and the Imperial College techniques.


      The genetical approach used but the Imperial College team is completely different, a technique called “gene drive” which has possible long term implications because it is carried forward in to future generations. Assuming the above writer is not fabricating their story, then surely the Imperial College scientist was discussing their own technique, not that of Oxitec, which is self limiting because it is causes death of the offspring before maturity.

      I have no dog in this fight, other than that I believe that Cayman has a golden opportunity to be a Zika free oasis in a dessert of other tropical destinations, now off limits to any family minded tourists.


      • Anonymous says:

        Than you, 11:16 am/16/07 — a breath of fresh air. You make a lot of sense — I was watching the presentation by OXITEC on the Governement TV Channel — and you are obviously right. The offspring die before maturity — so Imperial College is either speaking about their own research or is making a general statement. Either way, it must be a case of the statement being taken out of context. I suggest the writer who originally posted that reference go back and check context.

  28. LB says:

    What happens to birds, fish and other species who eat mosquitoes infected with e.coli and herpes?

  29. Anonymous says:

    “You need to be concerned about what you don’t know,” said Ravi Durvasula, a professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “Oxitec’s [approach] itself is fine, scientifically, but there are always the what-if scenarios. What if, for some reason, it doesn’t work—and reverts back to a wild-type state?”

    Read the full article online. “Genetically Modified Mosquitoes: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

    • Anonymous says:

      The mosquitoes are not infected with herpes or e coli or any other disease. This information is either purposely misleading or is the result of someone reading a scientific research paper that they did not understand. Honestly why would someone put herpes and e coli into their mosquito? Unless Oxitec is the scientific wing of ISIS?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok what if it did? Would you not just have a normal mosquito? Thats what the wild type is. I’m not losing any sleep over this nightmare scenario.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. and Ravi Durvasula is pushing his own (wait for it) patent-pending method of killing the larvae with lemongrass oil.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A proper understanding of history, the pawn-like role we atypical colonial subjects have played in a number of projects the world over is enough to convince anyone not to trust Oxitec or the entities behind them.

    Sorry. The players on the other side have only themselves to blame for the distrust that clearly exists.

    If anyone requires examples let me know.

    – YaDunKnow

  31. Anonymous says:

    Sure they were. How naive?

  32. Ellie says:

    Sweet music to my ears. Gene tweaking with deadly varuses and bacteria can’t possible have happy ending. I wouldn’t want to vacation in a country where I could become an unwitting guinea pig.
    You people are so gullible and assume integrity of the science.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, it’s us and the scientists who are gullible. You would do quite well in Pakistan where they are afraid of the polio vaccine because they think it is a ploy by the CIA to cause infertility.

  33. NotNice says:


  34. Yasmine says:

    Why isn’t anyone complaining about the toxic gas being sprayed by planes and trucks on a daily basis? What about the effects of those chemicals on ourselves, our children, our environment? I am sure they will do more damage than GMO mozzies. I can only assume they are using chemicals banned in other countries. Does anyone know for sure?

    • Jotnar says:

      You can only assume – on what basis exactly other than paranoia? As for does anyone know – yes, MRCU, who publish what they are using. But why as ever let facts get in the way of a rant?

      The problem is that its complaints like this and Dwene Ebanks Luddist injunctions render everyone vulnerable to getting very real diseases like Zika and Dengue because those who cannot be bothered reading what is publicly available (or are in the pocket of politicians out to score points) and would rather act on their own ill informed, illogical fears and assumptions interfere with a highly qualified mosquito control department, who have protected us all for decades, from doing their job. Unfortunately the rest of us and our kids end up paying the price for your ill informed views.

      • Anonymous says:

        3:23 pm

        Hmm… so my fears are illogical, but yours are logical? I don’t want MY kids end up paying the price of your “well” informed views. What makes you assume that we are unable to read what is publicly available?

        I would not want to be part of this e.coli/herpes genes-mosquitoes experiment. Period.

        Do you know that 1 out of 100 teenagers (in the USA only) has orthostatic intolerance (Mayo clinic estimate)? Where is it came from? Just think about it.

        The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

        • Anonymous says:

          Orthostatic intolerance (OI) may be defined as “the development of symptoms while upright, during standing that are relieved by recumbency.”

    • Anonymous says:

      They have been spraying for mosquitoes since the early sixties and the only adverse consequence in the last 47 years has been for the mosquitoes and not for the human population. West Bayers have always suffered from genetic defects but this problem existed long and was investigated before Dr Giglioli arrived and was and is due to inbreeding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why aren’t you complaining?
      You should know all the answers since you are so ‘sure’

  35. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance wins again. I hope they don’t go after internal combustion or wi-fi.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Cayman……doesn’t like change

    It’s as simple as that. Change is the devil.

    So with that note. It’s better to just go and do it, and say nothing. Then after the fact, when everyone notices the mosquito issue is gone. Then speak up and say “oh ya, we released 22 million modified mosquitoes who will inseminate mosquito larva, but they have been modified to produce no young” and that’s why there are no mosquitos anymore

    Is realy the only way you can get anything done in cayman without complaints.

  37. Unison says:

    Zika-fear mongering going on here … in order to scare people in supporting an experiment that was prematurely introduced to the public, and is funded by commercial interest.

    You commenters got to do better! 🙂

    • Jotnar says:

      GM fear mongering going on here … in order to …who knows WTF it is you actually want?

    • Anonymous says:

      15/07 at 1:30 pm– I do think that we should do everything against Zika taking hold here in Cayman. This disease with such devastating consequences is not to be taken lightly.

      I would not doubt that neighboring countries where the zika virus is known to be raging are experiencing significant declines in their tourism figures — not to mention costs in lost productivity and to national health services.

  38. Anonymous says:

    When we all grow a few extra limbs and more eyes pop out our head, or we all become sterile, after OXITEC releases these mutants and runs off with our millions they will be indemnified from any lawsuits once determined their mutant mozzie release was the cause.

    • There will be a far greater impact on your body from pesticides sprayed over these Islands over a long period of time than GMO mosquitoes. The science is correct so come into the 21st century Cayman. GMO mosquitoes do not pass their DNA on to those bitten but they do pass diseases. Let the ignorance stop.

    • Anonymous says:

      I notice growing a brain is not on your list

    • Barbara Clark says:

      What a load of rubbish! You’d rather get cancer from the insecticide. You don’t complain about that which is much more dangerous.

    • Think of all possibilities says:

      Anti-science hysteria is always good for a laugh.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Dear MRCU, where are you planning on releasing the 22 MILLION Genetically Modified mozzies?

    Do you intend to release ALL of them in Northwest Point Road?

    Do you plan to release the mozzies in other parts of Grand Cayman and or Cayman Brac and or Little Cayman?

    If you plan to release them in other parts of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, where exactly (name roads and areas e.g. North Sound Estates, Newlands) on each island and when are the releases scheduled to occur?

    • Unison says:

      MLA BACKING OXITEC: we approved of this way before we voted on it. The last thing we want is for the public to know fully about this and stop us ((:))

    • Anonymous says:

      Please feel free to let them go in my area. I’m in Cayman Brac. I’m sick and tired of getting eaten by mosquitoes and I rather those genetic modified mosquitoes than that cancer causing spray.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just in West Bay. Its so many because they have to swamp the population of mosquitoes already there. (Otherwise it doesn’t work.)

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad these ‘activists’ weren’t amount when the MRCU was established in 1965.

  41. Anonymous says:

    well I sure hate to be on the other end if they looooose this case. What a cost they will have GMM must be going for at least KYD$200 per . Hello plus plus plus LOL . just saying

  42. Anonymous says:

    Glad the GM mosquito plan has been stopped, for now. The MRCU would be better off visiting the various mosquito-infested areas around the island themselves, and making a concerted effort to rid us of this pest. Making a decision from a desk isn’t good enough. One aerial spraying a month, and 1 fogger truck a week passing by at 30 mph, is not enough to justify “control” in the MRCU title. Maybe they should be renamed the Mosquito Denial and Delegation Unit.

    • Jotnar says:

      Maybe you should get off your ass and clear the stagnant water in your backyard, then we wouldn’t have the problem in the first place. Always someone elses fault, right?

      • Anonymous says:

        My yard is clear of standing water, and I’ve cleaned my neighbor’s yard too. Its all the abandoned lots that need clearing out. I can’t do it all on my own. give me your contact info, and maybe we can double the efforts.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s the Caymanian way!!!

  43. Thomas says:

    Thank you Dwene /s. When Zika takes over because your collaboration stopped our main defense against it, I hope you have a valid alternative to control the mosquito vector.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope they have a valid alternative source of income to the tourism industry for us. In England this is called Luddism.

    • Unison says:

      Hypocrit! And fear monger! You didn’t talk like that when chickingunya came here, didn’t kill anyone, and its long gone!

      There is no reason to experiment on Caymanians – but its the money isn’t it?? :/

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