MRCU plans to expand GM mozzie project

| 15/06/2017 | 37 Comments

(CNS): Following the near year-long trial in West Bay, where genetically modified mosquitoes were released to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti, the MRCU is planning to expand the programme. The project has proved controversial but interim results show a decline of 79% in the pest. Now the modified mosquitoes could be released across the whole of Grand Cayman over the next two years and, after a surge in the numbers on Cayman Brac, it may also be rolled out in parts of that island as well.

The project, which is a partnership between the UK-based bio-firm Oxitec and Cayman’s Mosquito Research and Control Unit, began last summer in a specific area of West Bay. The researchers also designated a comparative control area next to the release area to measure how effective the bio-engineered insects are at undermining the Aedes aegypti population compared to regular control efforts.

With the help of a fluorescent gene marker, researchers can measure the impact of the GM mosquitoes, and results published in February showed a significant decline in the number of non-modified mosquitoes. This shows that the GM males are mating with the majority of the wild females and overwhelming the wild males in the release area.

“The impact on the wild population is already visible and we are now observing a 79% suppression of the Ae. aegypti population in the area. The monitoring of the release and comparator areas has enabled to take into account seasonal variations to obtain an unbiased estimation of the suppression measured in the release area regardless of the natural decrease due to the start of the dry season,” MRCU officials said in the report.

The MRCU plans to continue the releases in West Bay but has applied to the National Conservation Council to import some 2 kilos of eggs per month over the next two years to enable it to begin the full national rollout. Following Wednesday’s meeting of the NCC, subject to the submission of a number of documents relating to the project and the occupancy certificate for the MRCU’s new research laboratory in the industrial area, it gave the conditional go-ahead.

Commenting on the conditional grant of regulatory permission, MRCU Director Dr Bill Petrie told the press that an island-wide rollout of the GM mosquitoes would be integrated with other mosquito controls. 

He said the public health programme that began in West Bay at the end of July 2016 was to protect residents and visitors from the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits viral diseases including zika, dengue and chikungunya. “The programme is ongoing and further field data is currently being collected in support of the expanded deployment in Grand Cayman.”

Petrie aded that, if necessary, the programme may also be rolled out in Cayman Brac, depending on the circumstances.

See documentation supplied to the NCC in the CNS Library

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We all know with pet shop brought these iguanas to Cayman and we know that Government MUST have gave them the permit to do so. We are all being affected greatly by these invasive nuisances, so therefore I feel that these people need to be held responsible for their reckless and carless act.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I feel very strongly that we are making a big mistake by doing this experiment. God has blessed us so much, we do not have a problem with disease carrying mosquitoes, so why are again being brain washed in to this experiment. I feel that the outcome is going to be awful, just like Brazil. I hereby ask the powers to be to please stop this immediately.

    • Dan says:

      What are you talking about? Disease carrying mosquitoes are a very big problem! We are all blessed of course. But we are also very blessed to have science!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can we not import large sterile cockerels to cure the feral chicken problem before we become better known as the Chicken Islands?.

    • Anon says:

      good news. Glad hat we are addressing this problem in a way that will reduce the potential injury to us humans and environmental damage from spraying. Keep going MRCU.

    • Unison says:

      That’s something scientist can explore … but remember when times were hard. Fishing and livestock were how Caymanians survive.

      Who is to say that something like a world war or disaster could sever Cayman from much of the world. The chickens will provide meat and eggs for many hungry people.

      Lets not be so anti-nature

      • C'mon Sense says:

        ..but remember when times were hard. Fishing and livestock were how Caymanians survive.

        It’s how most people surive today tbh.

  4. Anonymous says:

    eat the iguanas…maybe some of these restaurants can offer on menu? just like lionfish? i personally have eaten them in honduras…excellent table fare…and eggs taste just like turtle eggs…yum yum!?

  5. Anonymous says:

    ancient astronaut theroist say they came from mars or super c bar? ??

  6. StopTheCrime says:

    Yes! Expand the area before rainy season gets into full swing. So glad to see science won (again) and fearmongering was overblown.

  7. ME says:

    Bring it on and thanks for the science. Take care of these dangerous pests.
    Anything for chickens?

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    Despite the efforts of Oxitec them West Bayers still voted for Mckeeva. At least we know it wasn’t the GM mosquitoes that turned them fool.

  10. Inquiring Mind says:

    What effect does it have on the creatures that eat the modified mosquitoes?

    • StopTheCrime says:

      Nothing. Literally NOTHING.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’d be interested to see your data.
        Valid science is always provable.
        God made it that way.
        It’s the dodgy, subjective stuff we have a problem with.

        • Dan says:

          That’s a good & fair point! I believe the data is very much available. Oxitech has been working on & perfecting this for years now.

  11. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    I would be thrilled to see any hard data to support any of the claims in this article. How are we to believe anything without any substantive evidence?

    For instance, how was a “surge in the numbers on Cayman Brac” established? What percentage of the mean constitutes a “surge”?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hard data? Dude, the data came from SCIENTISTS!

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Show me. Show me the data. I don’t want verbage as you offered. I want DATA.

        P.S. In case you don’t know, “data” includes numbers, and measurable constants. Good luck producing them, and while you’re struggling, ask yourself this: ‘Why can’t I find any measurable data? What does that mean?’

        • Anonymous says:

          Experts, you know. There out there.

        • Dan says:

          The data is very much available! If you really want hard data you can look it up. I wasn’t able to post it since the file was so large. Large because the data is so robust! Oxitech has been running free trials for years!

  12. Anonymous says:

    We need some genetically modified gangsters/homeboys to breed with the baby mammas next.

  13. Anonymous says:

    i have noticed the difference here on Boggy Sand. Thanks to all

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hooray. Now if we could only find something to ___k the iguanas out of existence. Wow.

    • Unison says:

      Plant more trees.

      Maybe if you stop replacing native trees and shrubs with palms trees, they won’t be so frequent in your backyard! Those creaturez have territories and it their homes are not right environment, they will leave it and spread out.

      In Honduras you have these green lizards and they are not over populating. There is enough bush there for them.

      I suggest government capture them instead of brutally killing them, and shipping them to countries like Honduras. No animal should be inhumanely treated especially in front of our children.


      • Anonymous says:

        They’re not over populating there? Maybe consider that Honduras has a larger land mass and also a larger population which actually consumes green iguanas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bring in hawks?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The jury, at least for me, is still out on this…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Science 1 – Flat earth GM conspiracy theorists 0

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be so silly. Did science hang on a cross for you?
      Actually, the one from whom all science comes, the Creator and giver of life did this for you. Be a little more humble.

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