Larval mosquito management and risk to aquatic ecosystems: A comparative approach including current tactics and gene-drive Anopheles techniques

R. K. D. Peterson and M. G. Rolston,  Transgenic Research,  2022.

Genetic engineering of mosquitoes represents a promising tactic for reducing human suffering from malaria. Gene-drive techniques being developed that suppress or modify populations of Anopheles gambiae have the potential to be used with, or even possibly obviate, microbial and synthetic insecticides. However, these techniques are new and therefore there is attendant concern and uncertainty from regulators, policymakers, and the public about their environmental risks. Therefore, there is a need to assist decision-makers and public health stewards by assessing the risks associated with these newer mosquito management tactics so the risks can be compared as a basis for informed decision making. Previously, the effect of gene-drive mosquitoes on water quality in Africa was identified as a concern by stakeholders. Here, we use a comparative risk assessment approach for the effect of gene-drive mosquitoes on water quality in Africa. We compare the use of existing larvicides and the proposed genetic techniques in aquatic environments. Based on our analysis, we conclude that the tactic of gene-drive Anopheles for malaria management is unlikely to result in risks to aquatic environments that exceed current tactics for larval mosquitoes. As such, these new techniques would likely comply with currently recommended safety standards.

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