Premier takes aim at anti-GM activists

| 10/08/2016 | 57 Comments
Cayman News Service

Genetically modified mosquitoes are released into the wild in West Bay, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has called on the local activists, led by Dwene Ebanks, who challenged the government’s decision to allow the Mosquito Research and Control Unit to release bio-engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to reveal who backed the attempts to stall the project. Taking aim at those involved, Alden McLaughlin said many of those who opposed the release were politically motivated and were using the issue “to grandstand” when they should be concerned about public health.

“Anyone who has ambitions to be a community leader or a member of the Legislative Assembly must be more objective and thoughtful regarding the stances they take,” he said in a statement released Tuesday. “They also need to adopt this government’s mantra of transparency. The leader of the campaign to stop the release has yet to openly confirm who or what entity funded the campaign. The public deserves to know the full truth to understand the motives behind the ill-advised and dangerous campaign.”

CNS asked the campaigners if they were prepared to reveal the funding source but they have refused. Recent local press reports that the UK-based environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth were behind the challenge have proved inaccurate but documents seen by CNS suggest the financiers behind the campaign used a small Toronto-based law firm owned by Edwin Flak.

While the source of the funding for the costly legal challenge or the true motivation remain under wraps, Cayman is not the first place where there have been public concerns and challenges to the release of GM mosquitoes, as there are still questions surrounding the science and its impact on the environment.

But in his statement the premier made it clear that he believes the opposition is entirely political, especially after Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who at first appeared to endorse the project, sided with the challengers.

The premier said he was all too familiar with the good that the MRCU does and its expertise in controlling mosquito levels.

“The MRCU is a major part of Cayman’s success story and I have no doubt in my mind that it would not do anything to endanger our people or our country; quite the contrary, as it has demonstrated over and over again,” McLaughlin stated. “Instead of continuing to support MRCU in its work to prevent several harmful vector-borne illnesses, the opposition leader chose to pull his party colleagues onto the alarmist train in an attempt to stop what may be the best hope for controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquito and the dangerous diseases that the breed carries.”

With six known imported cases and two local transmissions confirmed, the premier, who is also the health minister, said that the project was now even more important.

“It is regrettable that despite the very clear public health risks caused from Zika, some in the community chose to try and stop the release of the genetically modified mosquitos,” he added.

McLaughlin insisted the government did not act out of ignorance when it approved the release of the modified mosquitos and said the approval from the FDA this week to allow a release of the bio-engineered bugs in Florida, where cases of locally transmitted Zika have occurred, was further evidence to support the project.

Since the MRCU in partnership with Oxitec began the release of the GM modified, predominately male mosquitoes on 28 July, over 300,000 have been released in West Bay already and the plan is to continue over the next nine months across all of Grand Cayman with an eye on eliminating locally the invasive mosquito, which is responsible for the transmission of many diseases the world over.

Premier Alden McLaughlin statement on the Zika virus and opposition to the genetically modified mosquitoes

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Category: environmental health, Health, health and safety, Politics

Comments (57)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Alden’s arrogance and massive ego couldn’t resist making it personal against somebody not agreeing with him. GT’s version of Big Mac

    • Anonymous says:

      To 1.28pm Poor old Alden; if he is attacked and ignores it he is a wimp, if he defends himself, he is a bully. and arrogant too. A lose lose situation for him.

      • Anonymous says:

        This was all a defective sound byte from the more worrying hospital Zika attribution issue from a month ago. Did hospital not ask, or was it buried on orders from Minister?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tilting at windmills (Don Quixote). Both Mr.Dwene Ebanks and MOSQUIOTS themselves have become incorrectly perceived adversaries, imaginary enemies.

    How about REAL issues, corruption for example, which has a particularly harmful effect on people, society and economy? Corruption unaddressed proliferates -young people emulate what they see.

    Just one HUGE example.

    In his latest report (2015) Alastair Swarbrick pointed to what could be a “breach of trust” by Julianna O’Connor-Connolly over her use of public money on Cayman Brac-the purchase of property in an undeveloped subdivision valued at $125,000;a house by the fire station which was purchased from the owner in 2012 for considerably more than its market value; paving of private roads on the Brac with public money;spending $34,000 in hotel charges on Cayman Brac, where she lives and has a home; spendings related to her attendance of Qatar postal conference. Why has she never been held accountable?

  3. Anonymous says:

    People are constantly calling for Government to be transparent while being g unwilling to be transparent themselves.Two such groups are the Anti GM mosquito’s group and the Speak up Cayman group.Both of these groups want to influence Government policy and policymakers but are unwilling to reveal who is secretly behind them.This really bothers me especially when the latter group is encouraging the public to use a template on their website to communicate with our MLAs. Who exactly controls these groups and their websites should be of major concern to all of us, and we should not let our dislike of Alden blind us to these facts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Come clean Dwene.We know you have political ambitions and if someone is sponsoring you we need to know who you will be owing a favour to. For all we know it could be a foreign entity wanting to shut us down. I certainly cannot give you my vote under such circumstances.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Alden McLaughlin has operated at will in the Cayman Islands.
    He has sown, but he has yet to reap.
    His pockets may be full but his day will soon come. He is unfit for command and has proven it.
    Name one thing of note that he has achieved or done for us during this last term. One thing will be enough. I will shut up and go away….perhaps.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait to vote this PPM government out headed by Alden.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes that would be great. Vote in UDP and in 3 1/2 years later it’ll be ‘Can’t wait to vote this UDP government…” I mean how stupid are the people here. Every 4 years they rotate between the same 2 groups of people. No wonder this country is where it is.

  7. Anonymous says:

    ‘They also need to adopt this governments mantra on transparency.”

    “Really Mr. Premier really?” What you are clearly saying to the Caymanian people is that they have no power of authority to challenge or stand up for what they feel is their constitutional rights in their own country?

    We all know that government tries to make the best decisions to benefit their people and their country, but who gives you the audacity or authority to tell us what we can or cannot do as stated in the laws of the constitution? If we the people feel that something is not right, of course we will stand up for what is right. Let it be known democracy is the way of the people and democracy is what the people is all about. So give me a break!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Alden needs to sit down and just wait for his term to be over. His arrogance never fails to outshine his common sense. I have to laugh at our fool fool premier. Not far off from Mackeeva. Do nothing Alden and the PPM stooges. GO DEAL WITH THE DUMP! The promise you made and cant keep! I swear the PPM need to be sued for public healthcare negligence.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This goverments mantra of transparency? Ah yes. Like the transparency shown after the ritch law firm delivered the report on the PR process.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The “SILLY SEASON” has started…go deh Alden…Poor Cayman..we have to put up with this crap until May next year..

  11. Anonymous says:

    This sounds just like George Bush’s speech after 9-11.

    November 10, 2001 – President Bush Speaks to United Nations
    G.W. Bush:
    “We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous
    conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th;
    malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists,
    themselves, away from the guilty. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance
    the cause of terror.”

    Alden, you are punk’d.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A little history review and we find the US military has been tryi g to weaponise gm mosqaitos for years ,, zIka was just one trial

  13. Jim says:

    This is not a wise political move. Alden should consult others before he speaks on sensitive or opposing issues. I think the Premier should have not spoken out against Dwene at all. He should have remain quiet and let time tell. In politricks, the worse you can do is feed your opponents more attention thats unnecessary.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Slow news day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come on we deserve to know who helped put our heath at risk.

      Why is this a secret. I want to know. Thank you Premier

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mr Premier stop being such a baby. Everyone has the right to challenge government on anything. Its called democracy and youmwork for the people remember and if they don’t agree with you on it then tough luck

    • My Take says:

      He is sounding like Turkey’s President, Erdogan.

      It seems like Alden is saying that in order to protect the country from “dangerous notions” let’s name call and publicly denounce Dwene and those who protested with him. In a mild way, an Erdogan’s cleansing by naming and shaming needs to take place.

      • Anonymous says:

        I never saw Dwene’s name called in the premier’s comment. But Alden is right. Dwene wants to run to serve as an MLA then he has to take the time to understand what the risks are and what is being done. Surely he does know that male mosquitoes do not bite. Surely he can understand the risks posed by Zika. This is not just a virus that makes you sick and it goes away. It can cause birth defects as well as possible paralyses and death. Not to mention damaging our tourism economy if it gets out of control. Public Health is not a political football and leaders should neither create nor play on peoples fears and put the public at risk. Big picture thinking is needed, not small minded politics.

  16. Michel Lemay says:

    Accept this government mantra of Transparency. Really ? Biggest disapointment Mr. Premier.

  17. Anonymous says:

    To quote Bugs Bunny “what a maroon”. Does our Premier really think that delaying the mosquito’s release by a week would have prevented the two infected from catching Zika? Really?

    He says they must be more objective and thoughtful regarding the stances they take….I suggest he take that advice to heart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another not so great leader

    • Anonymous says:

      I understood that the complaint was not about a delay- but a blatant attempt to stop the Oxitec pogramme. And Mac joining in for political reasons. Read what Alden said in full- the link is at the bottom of the page. Don’t just rely on what is reported. The man is right. The leaders of the stop campaign need to tread carefully around public health issues.

    • Jotnar says:

      Roger Rabbit not Bugs.

  18. Pi$$ Poor Management says:

    Pi$$ Poor Management

    All the issues in Cayman affecting Caymanians but the Premier fighting with Dwene over mosquitoes transparency. SMDH

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry but the government of the Cayman Islands too should be more objective and thoughtful about the stances they take. Other than evidence produced by the company that produces these GM mosquitoes, what INDEPENDENT evidence do we have to say that this even works; guarantees no detrimental effects on the people who live here from being bitten by these experimental mosquitoes; and furthermore guarantees no mutative effects on the mosquitoes being experimented on? I don’t believe it exists but if it does, it would make me feel a lot better about the people of Cayman being used as guinea pigs again.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only one that has no idea what 9:46 is trying to say.

  21. anonymous says:

    A reply from the expert scientist and doctor Mclaughlin.

    I too must question why Alden has not publicly disclose those who are behind Oxitec in the Cayman Islands. Just who will be benefit financially from these experiments here???

    I am sure if he can challenge Dwene about who was behind him, he can also disclose the same about Oxitec and himself.


  22. Anonymous says:

    They are quick when it suits them,meantime didn’t move a finger to address the toxic Dump which in essence is million times more dangerous than illusive and ,controversial Zika virus. It isn’t like every woman in the CI is pregnant and needs Zika protection.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I have great sympathy for those that have been conditioned to distrust CIG depts. The Premier is truly out-of-touch with his constituents and the state of national affairs if he believes the CIG track record over last decade hasn’t earned this skepticism. But, if those same citizens were to have looked at actual science rather than popular myth, or internet anti-gmo theorizing – as many serious people did back in 2014 – they would have confirmed for themselves and their families long ago that the MRCU had reached the correct conclusions and that this experiment is genuinely worth pursuing for the health of our residents. We should be proud of this pioneering science being done in Cayman for humanity, and grateful to Oxitec for allowing us this opportunity to potentially eradicate this invasive and dangerous pest. Hopefully it continues to work as well as previous releases have.

  24. Anonymous says:

    just like the ‘save our road’ gang…..
    this will only stop once these people are forced to pay the legal costs of their spurious claims……

  25. Anonymous says:

    The Government’s ‘transparency’. Try and get that dying woman her cannibas oil….

  26. Anonymous says:

    They can’t reveal their sources because the main issue has nothing to do with the possible negative effects of GM mosquitoes being released in the environment but more to do with getting representation towards LGBTQ rights.

    Everyone in West Bay knows their true motive !!

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