Washington, D.C. – Food & Water Watch today expressed alarm over reports that UK biotech start-up Oxitec intends to release results from their controversial genetically engineered mosquito trial at a workshop in Bahia, Brazil, that have not been peer-reviewed, and challenges that the company’s own studies are biased to show results that enhance its bottom line.
“Scientific studies are normally published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which ensures the studies were properly conducted and results accurately interpreted and reported,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch executive director. “The fact that Oxitec’s data are not being published like any other scientific study is questionable.”
The company has attempted to defend a similar approach to its GE mosquito releases in Malaysia and the Cayman Islands, saying it failed to publish its results as peer-reviewed work because “the journals regarded it as not of sufficient interest,” and that such rejections by journals have occurred several times.
The Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Biology has said Oxitec’s trials were based on “scientifically deficient” environmental impact assessments and that regulatory approvals were based on secret reports using “questionable pivotal scientific assertions.”
“This is deeply worrying and potentially puts entire communities at risk of unknown harm from Oxitec’s use of the open environment as its private for-profit lab,” says Hauter. “Oxitec can’t have it both ways and call it science. Peer-reviewed journals publish credible scientific studies. We suspect instead that Oxitec’s work did not meet the scientific rigor required of the journals concerned, but Oxitec cannot afford to improve and rerun the trials to meet peer review standards.”
“It is alarming how little is actually known about this trial,” Hauter continued. “The people on the ground have certainly not given informed consent to be part of it. What’s worse, the population repression technique Oxitec is attempting with GE mosquitoes does not have any proven effect on controlling Dengue fever – Oxitec’s stated aim. People, who are at the receiving end of Oxitec’s experiment, deserve far better than this. They must be protected from buccaneering ‘science’ for profit. Bypassing normal scientific scrutiny is simply unacceptable.”