February 16, 2016 7:30 am
Updated: February 16, 2016 8:08 am

UN: Stopping Zika virus may require genetically modified insects

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

AP Photo/Felipe Dana

GENEVA – The World Health Organization says it might be necessary to use controversial methods like genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the insects that are now spreading Zika across the Americas.

The virus has been linked to a spike in babies born with abnormally small heads in Brazil and French Polynesia. WHO has declared Zika a global emergency, even though there is no definitive proof it is causing the birth defects.

In a statement on Tuesday, WHO said its advisory group has recommended further field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes, following trials in the Cayman Islands where sterile male mosquitoes were released to mate with wild females.

Environmentalists have previously criticized this approach, saying it’s impossible to know the long-term effects of wiping out an entire insect population.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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