Jamaica: Scientist says nothing to fear from release of sterile mosquitoes

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Jamaica: Scientist says nothing to fear from release of sterile mosquitoes

(JAMAICA GLEANER) — A local scientist is supporting the Health Ministry in seeking to assure members of the public that they have nothing to fear with the expected release of half a million sterile male mosquitoes starting March 2020.

Since the announcement, several people have expressed concern about possible risks.

However, Charles Grant, director general of the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Science at the University of the West Indies, said the sterile mosquitoes will not pose a threat to the public because they will not be able to reproduce.

“The males don’t bite and what we are sending into the environment are males that do not reproduce so there is no second generation there, there cannot be any mutation,” Grant said.

He said the adolescent males will be sterilised then released into the environment to mate with the females, however, the eggs produced will not be viable for birth.

This will naturally decrease the population of the aedes aegypti mosquitoes which are responsible for spreading the dengue virus.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton admitted that the desired results in reducing the local female mosquito population were not being achieved through fogging because of the insects have developed resistance to the chemical.

He said there is also a new species of mosquito in Jamaica so different methods have to be applied to control them.

Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr Dayton Campbell agrees with the initiative to introduce the sterile male mosquitoes but he believes the Health Minister should have briefed him on the details of the method.

“My continuous problem with Dr Tufton is that he doesn’t consult, I learnt this information in the media which I don’t think is how the Opposition is to be informed of these matters.

“I should have been able to ask some appropriate questions like ‘What testing they are doing?’, the studies they looked at and whether or not there were any complications,” Campbell said.

He further added that if Tufton had communicated with the public in detail about the method, there would be no fear about the unknown.

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