GeneWatch UK PR: Lack of risk assessment for GM mosquito experiments is negligent, says GeneWatch

Disponible en espanyol en:[cid]=566987&als[itemid]=574225.

12th February 2014

Oxitec's notification for the export of GM mosquito eggs to Panama contains no risk assessment for its planned experiments (1), despite this being a requirement under EU law.  GeneWatch UK warned that the Panamanian authorities or the Gorgas Institute could be liable if anything goes wrong with the experiments, as they have failed to require the company to assess the risks.

GeneWatch UK obtained the transboundary notification document from a Freedom of Information request to the UK Government. EU law requires Oxitec to provide a risk assessment which meets EU standards to Panama prior to exporting GM mosquito eggs, and for Panama to provide prior written consent to import (2). The notification fails to include the required risk assessment and instead claims that the regulators in Panama have produced their own, with input from the Gorgas Institute, and that Oxitec has not seen this risk assessment (3).

"Oxitec's risk assessment is an essential part of the decision because it gives the company's view on everything that could go wrong with the experiments" said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, "It is negligent of Oxitec to fail to do this risk assessment, which should meet European standards. It may be impossible to hold Oxitec liable for anything that's incorrect or missing if the experiments have been approved based on a different risk assessment that they claim they haven't even seen."

According to a report in El Siglo, Oxitec will bring the GM mosquito eggs to Panama next week and are planning to release 240,000 GM mosquitoes per week (4). The experiments have been delayed and there is confusion about when they will start. GeneWatch has previously highlighted a number of issues that need to be considered in the risk assessment so that local people can make a properly informed decision about taking part (5).

"Public consultation on the risk assessment is essential so local people can be sure they know the pros and cons" said Dr Wallace.

For further information contact:

Dr Helen Wallace +44-1298-24300 (office); +44-7903-311584 (mobile).

Notes for Editors:

(1)  Advanced Informed Agreement Notification - OX513A Aedes aegypti.

(2)  REGULATION (EC) No 1946/2003. Articles 4 and 5 and Annex I.

(3)  Expertos de Oxitec llegan a Panamá [In Spanish]. El Siglo. 11th February 2014.

(4)  The Notification states (paragraph (k)): "Data and information has been submitted by Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudio de la Salud (Gorgas Institute) Panama, to the National Biosafety Commission of the Government of Panama, in accordance with local regulations (Ley 72 de 26 de Diciember de 2001 and Ley 48 de 8 Augusto de 2002 and Resolución 046 de 25 enero de 2012). An import permit for contained use of Aedes aegypti OX513A was previously granted to the Gorgas Institute (Resolución 027 de 15 enero de 2013). The National Biosafety Commission of Panama and the Comité Sectorial de Biosguridad del Sector Salud para Organismos Géneticamente Modificados conducted their own risk assessment based on the data submitted. This risk assessment has not been made available to Oxitec Ltd, nor is it in the public domain as far as we are aware. A field release permit for Aedes aegypti OX513A was subsequently issued by the Government of Panama (Resolución CNB No 01-2014). A copy of the field release permit is attached".

(5)  GeneWatch UK PR: Risks of Panama's GM mosquito experiments must not be hidden from the public. 29th January 2014.[cid]=574133&als[itemid]=574145

↑ Top