CTNBio's Irresponsibility Produces Dengue Super Mosquito in Bahia

Guinea pig population          Study points cross between common and transgenic Aedes in the interior of Bahia. Resulting hybrid may be more harmful to health and environment Posted by Rida’s Cida de Oliveira 14 / 09 / 201914 / 09 / 2019 10: 27 São Paulo – Without being consulted and much less informed about the risks to which they would be exposed, the population of the Pedra Branca district in Jacobina (BA) was subjected to an experiment conducted between 2013 and 2015, with the authorization of the National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio). During this period, the 1. 144 residents were infested with thousands and thousands of genetically modified Aedes aegypti (GM) by the company Oxitec. The social organization Moscamed and the Municipal Secretariat of Health participated. Apparently harmless, they had the mission of copulating with females of the common Aedes and transmitting to their offspring a protein capable of killing them before reaching reproductive age. By propaganda, GM insects do not reproduce with other species, much less perpetuate in the environment. The goal was to reduce the population of wild Aedes, responsible for the transmission of the virus responsible for more than 1. 800 cases of dengue in the municipality in 2012. Although Oxitec claims that at the end of the project, the population of dengue mosquitoes by (***********************%) in 19 August 2014 Jacobina Mayor Rui Rei Matos Macedo decreed an emergency situation in the city due to the disease. Failing to combat the “evil” mosquito, Aedes’s “good” technology may have caused unknown ecological changes in Jacobina. That’s because the millions of OX transgenics 513 released in the small southwestern city of Bahia transferred their lab-modified genes to the natural population of Aedes. That is, transgenics would have reproduced and may have been perpetuated in the environment. The data was revealed on Tuesday (10) in an article published in the Scientif electronic newsletter. Reports, from the Nature Research group. Researchers at Yale University in the United States, the University of Sao Paulo, the National Institute of Science and Technology in Molecular Entomology and Moscamed Brazil who sign the study say it is an “anomaly.” According to the sample and the criteria used to define this genetic exchange – technically called introgression – it can be said that 10% a 60% of mosquitoes have at least one OX gene 513THE. Still according to the article, samples of wild Aedes genes collected in periods of six, 12 and 27 The 30 months after the start of GMO release, there is clear evidence that portions of their genome have been incorporated into the insect population that should have been reduced. “Of course, rare and hybrid offspring are robust enough to reproduce in nature,” the scientists assume. Therefore they recommend that there be a genetic monitoring program during the release of transgenic organisms to detect “unforeseen consequences”. Gene exchange “The study shows that there was a gene exchange, and that in this exchange the common mosquitoes incorporated genes from another variety, transgenic, resulting in hybrid insects, which usually have greater vigor, are more potent, about which there are no studies. Much less for its efficiency in virus transmission, which may even be higher. What we have now is a tougher ‘super mosquito’ that can grow in environments where others might not grow, ”says biologist José Maria Gusman Ferraz, a researcher at Unicamp’s Ecological Engineering Laboratory and a postdoctoral professor. graduation from the University Center of Hermínio Ometto Foundation (UniAraras). For him, it is salutary that such results were found in a study that involved specialists who know very closely the experiences in the interior cities of Bahia, such as Professor Parasitology Department of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of USP, Margareth de Lara Capurro, and geneticist Aldo Malavasi, a retired professor in the USP Department of Genetics and current director of Moscamed. As a member of CTNBio, in 2013 Ferraz visited the city of Juazeiro, Bahia, which since 2011 had been infested with Oxitec mosquitoes. The purpose of the technical visit was to know the laboratory where the insects released there and in Jacobina were being produced. Check, for example, if larvae were not leaking down the drain or other similar undesirable situations, as well as releases were being made into the environment and how the population was relating to the novelty. In its report, it called for the suspension of the release of transgenic insects in both cities until further health and environmental impact studies were done. And highlighted the contempt for the safety of the population, reduced to guinea pig. First, because the biosafety commission itself, which was supposed to play the role for which it was created, placed the GM insect in risk class 1 (low individual risk and low risk for the community) when it should be class 2 (moderate individual risk and low risk). risk to the community), according to sources heard by the RBA. And then because the affected residents received only information about the mosquito that transmits dengue viruses and the disease itself. Nothing has been said about the risks of transgenic insects to their health and the environment. To complete, they did not sign an informed consent form, as usual in cases of participation in the experiment. And they were not even presented – nor did CTNBio demand – opinions from human and animal ethics committees of the responsible institutions, since people would be stung and have their blood in contact with the insects, being subject to infections among other events. The researcher also noted Oxitec’s failure to report the survival rate of the mosquito developed in its laboratories, as the technique does not guarantee 100 % sterility in males produced. And questioned the minimum levels of water contamination by the tetracycline antibiotic necessary for the survival of their insects. The data is directly associated with the expectation of population increase of GM mosquitoes and the consequent environmental imbalances. Scorned by CTNBio, Ferraz’s report also questioned the lack of studies on the performance of transgenic males in mating with Aedes females. “The possibility of this mosquito remaining in the environment, as well as of crossing with GM, was all warned, but despised by most members of the commission. So they went straight to the field and dumped the mosquitoes into the environment where people live, ”said the researcher. Thick view The Jacobina experiment was authorized by CTNBio in December 2012. In the extract from opinion 3. 541 / 2012, published in the Official Gazette, the then president Flávio Finardi Filho stated that “the process (01200. 002408 / 2012 – 74) describes the proposed biosafety conditions for the release, the general conditions for conducting the experiment and the qualification of the research team involved in the project ”. And that “the Commission considered that the experimental protocols and other proposed biosafety measures comply with CTNBio standards and the relevant legislation aimed at ensuring biosafety of the environment, agriculture, human and animal health”. But Oxitec, as Ferraz well recalled, omitted a number of pieces of information. He even pulled pages out of the dossier, alleging secrecy, and the biosafety commission turned a blind eye. Even without having done any studies on it, he recalled, the company denied the possibility of ecological implications of crossing between surviving transgenic mosquitoes and wild Aedes females. And despised the ability of the lineage OX 513 to come across Aedes albopictus, a species that disputes space with aegypti and is also a transmitter of several virus. In breach of internal regulations, most CTNBio components approved in April 2014 the Aedes GM commercial release application. So far no technical evaluation of the experiment in Jacobina had been done, which only happened in 2018. And the report presented to the commission, according to sources, came full of defects and inaccuracies, mirroring all the insecurity and irresponsibility that exposed the population to unknown and unnecessary risks. Once again the common commercial and dwarven science prevailed within the collegiate, with the exception of exceptions, which neglected genetically modified organisms directly associated with viruses that cause serious disease in humans. The flattering opinion expresses the majority of the collegiate’s understanding that a single study by an Oxitec researcher – Renaud Lacroix – plus the dossier submitted by the registrant itself is a “considerable set” of information. . As the illustration highlights, the opinion signed by then-president Edivaldo Domingues Velini argues that “although there is no experience with the commercial release of this GMO yet, there is a considerable body of pertinent information coming from the planned release of this mosquito in other countries.” And quotes Lacroix et al., 2012. Trade Amid the dengue outbreak of 2015, Oxitec took advantage of its marketing authorization and sought to leverage its business. It started selling Aedes GM to the Piracicaba Municipal Health Department. Like Jacobina and Juazeiro, the population was the target of an advertising campaign to convince them of the effectiveness of a technology that had not been adequately evaluated for environmental and health risks. Without consultation, residents of 12 neighborhoods were bombarded with thousands and thousands of transgenic insects . Without proper monitoring or transparency, the case ended up in the Public Prosecution Service, which signed with the company and the City a Conduct Adjustment Term (TAC) that, according to activists, was never met. With an eye on expanding its market to other municipalities, Oxitec has sponsored events in the area of ​​health policies, such as the Congress of the Council of Municipal Health Secretaries of São Paulo (Cosems-SP), in the editions of 2015 The 2017. The company also sponsored the Health Solutions Fair – Zika, in August 2017, in Salvador, receiving criticism from the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (Abrasco). For the entity, the participation of the company is “a symptom of institutional distortion that deserves reflection and permanent vigilance of the encroachment of interests that are contrary to Brazilian public health”. In July 2017, the city of Juiz de Fora (MG) signed a contract to purchase the same mosquito released in Juazeiro, Jacobina and Piracicaba. With a term of four years and expected expansion, it cost, in the first year, R $ 165 thousand. The insects began to be handled in a “factory” installed in the municipality, since the facilities in Piracicaba were deactivated at the same time. The company, which does not admit to talk about first-generation failure, obtained approval from CTNBio for the planned release of a second-generation environment, OX 5034. The target this time will be the population of the municipality of Indaiatuba, in the region of Campinas. The differential of these new Aedes GM is a defective gene, fatal to females, who will still die in the larval phase – the aquatic period of the mosquito’s life cycle, when it has not yet become a winged insect. The trait should be transmitted to all offspring. Once again, the promise is to reduce the population of wild mosquitoes, thereby decreasing the transmission of dengue, zika and chikungunya viruses. Unicamp professor and member of the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), entomologist Mohamed Habib told RBA that, from a technological point of view, these more modern insects have been developed to try to correct flaws in the former, but they won’t work either. “They could work in island areas, such as islands, fenced valleys, but not in large open areas where mosquitoes fly freely from one point to another, reproducing as they do in these locations. And Piracicaba, for example, is not an island area, but an extensive flat area. ” Vaza Cayman In the same month of July, so busy for Oxitec, the British organization GeneWatch revealed that the first generation of GM mosquitoes is expensive, does not work and can put the health of the population at risk. To reach this conclusion, the organization’s technicians analyzed the content of e-mails exchanged between company managers and representatives of the health authority in the Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean. Like Vaza Jato, where journalist Glenn Greenwald contextualizes with fact the messages exchanged by Telegram between Lava Jato prosecutors, GeneWatch compares data propagated in the company’s advertising with those collected in public hearings, such as in the United States Congress. very few studies – which CTNBio considers abundant – with conversations obtained through an official information access service. Amid the policy of cuts, fiscal adjustment and Constitutional Amendment (EC) 95, which mainly penalizes the municipalities, with the lowest revenue among the federative entities, Oxitec’s difficulties tend to multiply like the transgenic mosquitoes dumped on the Jacobina population. The Municipal Health Department of Piracicaba no longer bears the logo of the partnership with the “Aedes do Bem” that exhibited for so many years. Instead, a humorous ad warns people of their responsibility to avoid breeding indoors. Sought by the RBA, the secretariat did not speak until the closing of the report. As José Maria Gusman Ferraz points out, it is consistent with the system for a company to want to profit from selling its products, even if it has to make often misleading advertising and omit unfavorable data. “What we cannot accept is CTNBio’s lack of scientific ethics, of releasing transgenic events even without sufficient information, putting the population in the guinea pig situation, vulnerable to the negative effects of a technology that generated hybrids, possibly resistant to insecticides. None of this has been evaluated. ” Also unacceptable, he said, is the mantra repeated by committee members that their role is to strictly analyze the gene inserted into a plant, animal or microorganism, as if it had no relationship and impact on health and the environment. “Transgenic increases the use of pesticides, which is very harmful. And come to say that this is another problem, outside the scope of CTNBio, as if it were possible to separate everything into small boxes? Cartesian that. It is incompetence and irresponsibility for researchers to get into approving everything without critical analysis, in unscientific decisions. ”
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