Releasing gene drive mosquitos in Burkina Faso requires local consent

Zahra Moloo ETC Group COPAGEN Terre à Vie FENOP

Target Malaria’s planned release of gene drive mosquitoes in parts of Burkina Faso is a high-risk technology aimed at the elimination of entire species. Hundreds of organizations have demanded a moratorium on the use of this technology outside of strictly-controlled laboratories.

Zahra Moloo, an investigative journalist who traveled through the region writes, "The more interviews I conducted, the clearer it became that local people had not been involved in a genuinely participatory debate on the Target Malaria project, let alone extended their informed consent. On the contrary, several people I interviewed called for the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes to be halted until the risks and effects had been adequately investigated, and civil society across Burkina Faso had been fully informed?" Read Moloo's entire story "Cutting Corner on Consent" on Project Syndicate. 

In November, the UN Convention on Biodiversity laid down strict conditions for the environmental release of gene drive organisms. These conditions require that “the ‘free, prior and informed consent’ or ‘approval and involvement’ of potentially affected indigenous peoples and local communities is sought or obtained” before any release is undertaken.

This short dispatch, “A Question of Consent: Exterminator Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso,” documents conversations with residents of the areas where Target Malaria is conducting tests, as well as opposition from civil society groups in the region.

The film was co-produced by the ETC Group, COPAGEN, Terre à Vie, Zahra Moloo and FENOP