TWN Briefing on Survival of GM Mosquitoes in the Presence of Tetracycline Contamination


Dear Friends and colleagues,
RE: Survival of GM mosquitoes in the presence of tetracycline contamination
This TWN Biosafety Briefing addresses two interrelated issues that are of importance for the forecasting of potential environmental and health effects of GM mosquitoes using Oxitec’s RIDL technology: that of survival in the presence of the antibiotic tetracycline and evidence of mosquitoes breeding in sewage aquatic environments.
Laboratory experiments inadverdently contaminated by tetracycline in animal feed increased the survival rate of the GM mosquitoes to 15%. The presence of tetracycline in the environment is therefore a risk factor that may lead to contamination of Aedes aegypti breeding sites and subsequently lead to successful emergence of adult mosquitoes and affect the efficacy of the RIDL technology. Survival may also pose unknown risks due to the presence of increased numbers of biting females expressing the transgenic trait.
Aedes aegypti is generally believed to only breed in clean water, and this information has been used during the risk assessment for environmental release of the GM mosquitoes. However, a growing number of publications are showing evidence that sewage-contaminated breeding may be significant. The scenario of breeding and development in potentially tetracycline-contaminated aquatic environments, with the risk of suppressing the lethal system, should be considered as tetracycline is one of the major antibiotics used for humans, and can be found in sewage.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister,
10400 Penang,
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