PAS slams secrecy behind release of GM mosquitoes

By Harakah Daily

KUANTAN, Jan 28:  PAS has joined other non-government organisations to hit out at Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for secretly allowing the government-run Institute of Medical Research (IMR) to release 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, last month designed to combat dengue fever, dubbed the GM mosquitoes at an uninhabited site in Bentong last December

“The people have been caught by surprise over the news that GM mosquitoes were released in Bentong as reported by press on 26 January 2011.

“What is more shocking is the news only comes out after the ministry released it much earlier on December 21, 2010,” said PAS Vice President, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man in a statement to Harakahdaily.

Tuan Ibrahim, who is also the Pahang PAS commissioner, said his office had received many complaints with regards to the issue.

It was reported that 6,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released at an uninhabited site in Pahang to “study the dispersal and longevity of these mosquitoes in the field” and the research had concluded on January 5 this year.

In a move to calm critics, IMR assured that no new release was planned until the observation period of the first trial ended based on the guidelines given by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Earlier, several groups, including the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP), have opposed the plan to release GM mosquitoes, which the authorities said were designed to combat dengue.

‘You are responsible’

Tuan Ibrahim stressed that although the mosquitoes were released in an uninhabited site, the ministry should not allow the research without taking into account the views of residents around Bentong.

“The issue of releasing GM Aedes mosquitoes which has sparked international concerns – they should have at least informed the people beforehand and the ministry must be held fully responsible for any implication from the release,” he said, adding that a letter seeking explanation from the ministry was being sent.