Teams testing mosquitoes that are being considered for field release, their advisors, policy makers and donors often talk about ‘large cage trials’, but how large must a cage be for mosquito trials to qualify for that title? Is the proper metric its volume or stimulation of behavioral characteristics for a cage that provides the data we need? Perhaps the real value of large cage testing is neither of these but its independence.
This guest editorial was written by Dr. Guy Reeves of the Max-Planck institute in Plön, Germany.
Field trials of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have already progressed to free releases in populated areas in a number of countries. A recent publication in PLoS NTD provides a critical summary of the events leading up to these trials and is aimed at non-specialist readers. While advocating the value of field testing transgenic techniques for suppressing disease vector populations, it highlights a number of troubling scientific precedents.