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GM mosquito trials a health risk in India

NewsGM mosquito trials a health risk in India

In the normal course, one would expect that the imperialism that sees Third World countries as suitable guinea pigs for risky biological research would arise from the United States, but in the case of GM mosquitoes, the threat has arisen from the Oxford University in the UK, an institution that after 71 years of “freedom” India’s political, administrative and intellectual leadership still venerates. A subordinate department of Oxford University, Oxitec began experimenting with genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are carriers for the virus that causes dengue and zika. Soon they began creating problems, which seem not to have been brought to the attention of authorities in India, who for long have been falling over each other to pander to the demands of foreign “health” researchers, especially in the hugely risky field of vaccines.

The modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released into the atmosphere in Brazil in 2014 and created severe problems there. However, they have now been brought for trials to India. The trials began in Maharashtra on 23 January 2017. These insects were created in Oxford labs using the RIDL technology (Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes).

Oxitec has been allowed by the state government of Maharashtra to organise the trials. A source in the UK warns that after regular lab tests are completed, the insect would be released for open trials initially in three states in India. One of the sites chosen is in Jalna district of Maharashtra. Two villages have been identified and the trials are set to begin soon, below the radar of media and the public. Locals in the district are, therefore, unaware of any such trials and the implications of genetically engineered insects and the danger it can pose to the bio-diversity of the region.

Recently appointed deputy head of World Health Organization, Dr Soumya Swaminathan has been on record saying that more than 100 such GM mosquitoes would be needed per person in the targeted region, that too for months together, to sustain any hope of the extermination of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Another experiment planned in India is for health authorities in the country to sign an MOU with Monash University, which uses Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. Dengue, zika or chikunguniya viruses cannot replicate when mosquitoes have Wolbachia. Unlike the RIDL technology, a feature of Wolbachia is that it is self-sustaining, making it a low-cost intervention. The downside is that the release of even a single female mosquito infected with Wolbachia could “potentially lead to the alien bacteria spreading in the target population,” says a June 2013 report in Pathogens and Global Health.

The same experiment was tried in Brazil in 2013. Now warning lights are flashing about the consequences that seem not to be visible to those in India who are preparing a red carpet to welcome such trials to overpopulated, under-nourished India.

As zika became the newest health scare in Brazil, and that too just before the Olympic Games, pictures of babies with shrunken heads and small brains were flashed across the TV screens and the zika virus was blamed for causing a record number of birth defects in newborns, referred to as microcephaly. Of the initial 4,180 suspected cases of microcephaly, only 270 cases were confirmed by Brazil’s Health Ministry as actual microcephaly. Of the 270 cases, medical researchers could only correlate six cases of microcephaly to the zika virus. This means 264 confirmed microcephaly cases didn’t even show a trace of zika virus. So why is the zika virus being blamed so hysterically in global media for the birth defects?

Is it because zika was first isolated in 1947 by scientists working for the Rockefeller Foundation? Zika was “discovered” in a rhesus monkey, which was being held in captivity. Was zika created in the lab for experimental purposes? Some in the scientific community warn that zika was a biological warfare experiment gone out of control, and not the first either of such mishaps.

For decades, zika transmission was extremely rare. The virus didn’t start spreading until after 2012. Coincidentally, this was immediately after the biotech company Oxitec released genetically modified mosquitoes en masse in Brazil. Zika outbreaks quickly exploded from those sites where genetically modified mosquitoes were released to combat dengue. As yet, the doubts about such a “coincidence” have not been cleared, and yet Maharashtra and other states are rushing ahead to go the Brazil way. If Zika cases explode there as well, those responsible for sanctioning such trials should face condign and summary punishment, rather than escape the way so many have, who cleared toxic trials of vaccines and biological agents in the name of promotion of science and public health.

In the wake of zika’s spread within Brazil, tons of insecticide was sprayed in and around homes, further exposing pregnant women and young children to brain-damaging chemicals. In 2014, the Brazilian Minister of Health mandated that all expectant mothers receive the new Tdap vaccine. This meant that, at 20 weeks’ gestation, a vulnerable, developing young life would be exposed to aluminium adjuvant, mercury preservative, formaldehyde, antibiotics and a host of other chemicals that could damage a foetus’ developing brain. Is it only a coincidence that birth defects have spiked in Brazil because of the toxic elements that foetuses have been exposed to as a consequence of such vaccines?

It’s obvious why zika is being blamed. Some within the foreign biotech industry is using the zika virus scare to cover up three science experiments that many researchers say have gone bad—Tdap vaccines, insecticides and GM mosquitoes. In this way, nature can be blamed, more insecticides and vaccines can be sold, and more GM mosquitoes released. The public is taught to fear nature even more and this gets used by governments to fatten the pockets of foreign companies making vaccines and drugs that are monopolistically prescribed for such mysteriously inflicted diseases.

Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in charge and not Manmohan Singh, it is expected that the Brazil results concerning GM mosquito will be comprehensively examined before the Maharashtra government is allowed to go ahead with trials that may result in Brazil-style tragedies in parts of India. The rush to obey the orders of foreign agencies intent on using destitute Indians as “vaccine fodder” should be slowed down until a complete risk assessment gets done. Only PM Modi can ensure that a Brazil tragedy be avoided, rather than perpetrated due to inadequate understanding of the risks of such experiments on citizens of India.

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