KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia released about 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever, officials said today.
The field test is meant to pave the way for the official use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring with shorter lives, thus curtailing the mosquito population. Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever.
The plan has sparked criticism by some Malaysian environmentalists, who fear it might have unforeseen consequences, such as the inadvertent creation of uncontrollable mutated mosquitoes. Government authorities have tried to allay the concerns by saying they are conducting small-scale research and will not rush into any widespread release of mosquitoes.