The Release of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso: Bioeconomy of Science, Public Engagement and Trust in Medicine

Beisel, UG, J. K.,  African Studies Review,  62:164-173. 2019.

Malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, continues to be responsible for a significant number of disease episodes and childhood deaths on the African continent. A variety of mosquito control strategies are currently inplace, but since case numbers are rising again, and drug and insecticide tolerance slow down progress made, there has been a push for innovative strategies. In August 2018, the National Biosafety Agency of Burkina Faso granted approval for the release of a maximum of 10,000 male Anopheles mosquitoes in experimental trials conducted by the multi-country consortium Target Malaria. These mosquitoes are rendered infertile through genetic modification, namely through “re-programming” of endonucleases that “cut through essential genes,” in this case, genes for fertility (Target Malaria 2019). The idea is that through the sterilization of male mosquitoes, the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes will be reduced, thereby decreasing the overall number of malaria infections.