28.05.2020 |

GM Fungi to kill Mosquitoes: Illegal experiments in Burkina Faso?

Conducted silently and out of the public eye, a three-year experiment involving a new and potentially unsafe and risky genetically modified (GM) fungus to kill mosquitoes was performed in the village of Soumousso in Burkina Faso in 2019. When the study was published in a US scientific journal in May 2019, a media frenzy broke out, heralding the experiments as a breakthrough cure for malaria.

The GM fungus was developed by introducing a toxin from the lethal Australian Blue Mountains funnel-web spider into the M. pingshaense fungus, to ostensibly increase the efficiency of the fungus to kill mosquitoes and stave off malaria.

The use of GM fungi is offering a quicker route to the market than gene drive organisms, in a ‘new era of transgenic microbial control’. Indeed, the latest devastating locust infestation in East Africa has prompted calls for the use of GM fungus, with claims being made about the importation of non-GM and GM fungal biopesticides from China.

However, the GM fungus experiments raise many troubling legal, biosafety, ethical, political and human rights concerns, as detailed in the ACB’s new briefing .

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