The mosquito Aedes aegypti transmits viruses that cause diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and zika. Measures are taken to control the mosquito since these infectious diseases represent a significant health problem. This is the case on the island of Saba, a Dutch Caribbean island. In order to fight these diseases a British company has genetically modified the mosquito in such a way that it can suppress local mosquito populations. The modification causes the mosquitoes' offspring to die prematurely. The potential release of these mosquitoes on Saba is considered to result in negligible risks for human health and the environment. This is the outcome of a technical evaluation of the potential release of these genetically modified mosquitoes. RIVM's GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Office was commissioned by the Executive Council of Saba to perform this evaluation.
Among others, this evaluation looked into effects on the food chain to determine whether an important food source would disappear if the local mosquito population were to be eliminated. It was also considered whether it is unhealthy if people accidentally swallow a genetically modified mosquito. Another element of the evaluation was whether the genetic modification would increase the efficiency of the mosquito to spread diseases.
An evaluation of the efficacy of application of the genetically modified mosquitoes was not part of this technical evaluation. The same applies to socio-economic effects or the desirability of using these mosquitoes.