Experiences and Outcomes from a Worldwide Training Programme on Genetically Modified Vectors (GMVs) Related Biosafety for Human Health and the Environment

B. K. Tyagi,  Genetically Modified and other Innovative Vector Control Technologies,  2021.

Partial to virtual lack of any impact on control of vectors of human diseases, especially mosquitoes, warranted urgent search for new alternate technologies which will be safe, economical and environment-friendly, on one hand, and integrate with other tools and methodologies of the integrated vector management (IVM), on the other. Past few decades have witnessed surge of many effective and sustainable genetically and biotechnologically developed de novo technologies which tend to control mosquito vectors by working either to suppress (transgenesis) or replace (paratransgenesis), besides an array of other physiological interventions, on the vector populations. Several technologies such as, for example, Release of insect carrying Dominant Lethal (RIDL) gene system, Wolbachia (an endocellular symbiotic bacterium naturally present in many arthropods) induced cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) resulting in unviable egg production and transforming dengue vectors (Aedes spp.) and malaria vectors (e.g., Anopheles stephensi) into resistant to respective pathogens, i.e., viruses and Plasmodium, have offered promise in controlling vector-borne diseases. Notwithstanding unchallengeable significance, these technologies have also raised many questions from both societies and governments of many countries. To alleviate their scepticism and other queries, many international organizations conducted meetings to generate consensus for guidelines, but even this helped marginally to pacify global interrogations. It was, therefore, considered opportune by the Tropical Disease Research (TDR)/WHO to set up a series of multi-regional training workshops in Africa (Bamako, Mali), Asia (Madurai, India) and Latin America (Medellin, Colombia) between 2008 and 2011 (WHO 2015). About 150 trainees were drawn from as diverse disciplines/walks of life as science, health departments, academics, social, legal, non-governmental organization. The outcome, inculcated from the experiences expressed by the trainees themselves post-workshops, has been very encouraging as they all found the training courses highly beneficial to comprehend genetically modified vectors/mosquitoes (GMV/GMM) related biosafety to the human and the environment and thus become a potential ambassador in their areas or countries to strongly communicate and advocate about the lasting benefits of the various genetically evolved technologies in the control of mosquitoes responsible for transmission of dengue and malaria, in particular.

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