A British biotech lab has released huge numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes in an effort to combat dengue fever. But people in Grand Cayman (a Caribbean island) were not adequately informed of the experiment, resulting in a debate over the potential dangers to humans.According to German magazine Spiegel Online says the mosquitoes maintained at a steady 28 degrees Celsius in Oxitec, a small laboratory near Oxford in England, emit no more than a light purr. Their victims cannot hear them it until it’s almost too late. The experiment can generate interest in Pakistan, as the dengue fever paralysed routine life in parts of northern and central Punjab last year, while around 400 people died in Lahore alone after being affected by the deadly virus. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at a recent press conference claimed that the death toll could have climbed up to 25,000, if the provincial government had not taken effective measures to counter the outbreak.According to the magazine, the experiment will go down in scientific history as the first release of GM insects that could bite humans. What is scandalous about this field trial is that it was largely conducted in secret. Few people on knew that the mosquitoes were genetically modified. The local population was largely kept in the dark. The insects in question are female yellow-fever mosquitoes, some of the most dangerous animals on the planet. In addition to the illness after which they were named, they also transmit the dengue virus. Dengue fever is on the rise worldwide and spreading faster than any other insect-borne viral disease. Every year, female mosquitoes infect at least 50 million people in tropical and subtropical regions (the males don’t bite). More than 20,000 of their victims - most of them children - succumb to their illness, the magazine said.                      –Monitoring Desk

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 04-Feb-2012 here.