Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Project Wolbachia by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry has evaluated the risks in altering the ecological balance of the local wild mosquito population that is associated with deploying genetically modified mosquitoes as a vector control method.
1 The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been conducting research and trialling the use of Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti (Wolbachia-Aedes) mosquitoes to suppress urban Aedes aegypti populations in Singapore since 2016. Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes carry the Wolbachia bacterium, which is safe and occurs naturally in more than 60% of insect species. The Wolbachia field trials are carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in consultation with NEA’s Dengue Expert Advisory Panel (DEAP), which comprises local and international experts. Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes are not genetically modified, as there is no tampering or modification of the genes of the mosquito. This is confirmed by the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) in Singapore.
2 Prior to carrying out field releases of Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes, NEA had carried out comprehensive risk assessments of the Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology, and determined it to be safe, with no risk to human health and insignificant risk to ecology and other mosquito species in our ecosystem. This conclusion is consistent with findings from studies in other parts of the world.