WHO greenlights GM mozzies as beneficial technology

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Geneva, Switzerland - December 03, 2019: World Health Organization (WHO / OMS) Logo at WHO Headquarters

THE World Health Organization (WHO) released its official statement to clarify its stance on the evaluation and use of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes and its use to control vector-borne diseases (VBD). WHO says it supports the investigation of all potentially beneficial technologies, and these include GM mosquitoes.

The position statement has seven key points:

  • WHO recognizes the major impact of VBD has made on the global community. Though efforts have been made to control them, the progress stalled in recent years. Thus, it is important to urgently develop and test new tools to control the pathogens and vectors.
  • New technologies, including GM mosquitoes, are recognized by the WHO as a supplement or alternative to existing interventions to help further reduce or prevent disease transmission. The organization takes the position that all potentially beneficial new technologies should be investigated to determine how useful they are in the continued fight against diseases of public health concern.
  • Current national and institutional mechanisms of governance and oversight must be adapted to the purpose rather than replaced.
  • Evaluation should be done using established and internationally-recognized risk assessment tools and procedures, and the decisions arising from these evaluations should account for the potential health benefits in consideration of disease control, and not be limited to potential environmental risk.
  • WHO recognizes that community engagement is essential in developing effective approaches to fight against VBDs when planning and conducting field trials prior to the introduction of any new public health intervention. WHO states that these public engagements are a priority in field research of GM mosquitoes.