Still, the Cayman release has provoked strong emotions—distrust, disappointment and frustration—from many of Alphey’s colleagues, environmental groups and the public. “The international community was taken by surprise that this release had happened,” says Bart Knols, a medical entomologist at University of Amsterdam and managing director of MalariaWorld. “Now the outside world perceives Oxitec as secretive, which makes the public wonder why. It breeds suspicion.”
This is promising technology, Knols says. “If some party messes up badly and misinforms the public, the risk is that other GM trials will suffer.” Now, because of Oxitec, he adds, “we have the same problems as the WHO had in India in 1976.”
This article was originally published with the title The Wipeout Gene.