Transgenic insects developed by a British company as the solution to dengue fever in the Third World are causing the debilitating disease to spread even worse, according to new reports. Genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes developed by Oxitec have sparked an outbreak of dengue fever in Brazil so severe that officials have had to renew a state of emergency declaring the situation to be a "biological disaster."

dengue fever

The GM mosquitoes were released by Oxitec under commercial approval by Brazil's regulatory commission CTNBio, which ignored evidence showing that the insects, branded as OX513, could intensify the spread of dengue fever. CTNBio's commission ultimately approved the GM mosquitoes anyway, which, as predicted, has caused a nightmarish situation that is possibly irreversible.

In the Brazilian towns where OX513 mosquitoes have been released, rates of dengue fever have spiked dramatically, prompting the decree of a state of emergency. According to reports, the decree was issued "due to the abnormal situation characterized as a biological disaster of dengue epidemic," reiterating what some CTNBio members had said from the start.

Prior to their approval, OX513 mosquitoes had been determined to potentially lead to higher rates of dengue fever. After eliminating the target species, warned experts, OX513 mosquitoes leave an "ecological niche" that could allow other invasive mosquito species to take their place, furthering the spread of dengue.

"The large-scale release of OX513A, altering the reproductive performance of the Aedes aegypti, can trigger a population explosion of other vectors, with implications for adaptive dengue virus mechanisms in epidemiological terms and consequences for public health," pointed out several CTNBio members opposed to OX513's approval in a recent paper to the commission.

"[T]he almost complete [suppression] of local populations of A. aegypti by the OX513A will possibly cause migration flows in local populations of A. albopictus, compromising the disease-reduction goal, for the simple fact that a new vector of the disease will occupy the ecological niche that was abruptly abandoned by the main competitor," it adds.

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