GM mozzies in populated areas

KUALA LUMPUR - Genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes may be released in populated areas as part of the Health Ministry's study to counter the breeding of the dengue-causing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the release of GM mosquitoes in unpopulated areas had proven successful in reducing the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

"We have received some objections from the people to the idea of releasing GM mosquitoes in populated areas but that is not the reason we are delaying the release of these mosquitoes.

"More studies are needed before we can decide whether to release these mosquitoes in populated areas," he told a press conference after attending the Chang Ming Thien Foundation cheque presentation ceremony here yesterday.

Liow said the number of dengue cases had increased by 26% from 350 cases in the last week of last year to 440 cases with one death in the first week of this year.

"One of the reasons for the rise is the change in climate and the spread of dengue still needs to be controlled," he said.

He said the research on dengue vaccine, which was in its third phase now, was still ongoing as researchers still needed to monitor its effectiveness over the next few years.