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Zika-fighting GM mosquito program in Cayman Islands delayed over costs, safety concerns

| | February 21, 2018

A multimillion dollar plan for the islandwide rollout of Cayman’s genetically modified mosquito program has been significantly scaled back amid budget cuts and concerns that the technology has yet to fully prove itself.

A series of emails between Mosquito Research and Control Unit officials and British biotech firm Oxitec, released under the Freedom of Information Law, show the two parties were close to agreement on a two-year, US$8 million deal in August last year.

But government backed away from the arrangement, budgeting only CI$940,000 in 2018 for a much smaller-scale deployment of the technique in West Bay – essentially a rerun of the pilot deployment in that area from 2016 and 2017.

The decision appears to have been driven by a mix of budget issues and concerns that more data is needed to assess the effectiveness of the method of suppressing local populations of the disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito.

[F]ormer MRCU Director Bill Petrie [said,] “For the first time, we now have an idea of the cost of a full deployment programme of GMMs in the Cayman Islands and, at this juncture, it is difficult to reconcile any notion that this project would represent value for money, if it were to proceed.”

Read full, original post: Government backs away from genetically modified mosquito rollout

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