A Question of Consent

Exterminator Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso

ETC Group, December 2018

[14 mins, 47 sec]

Role: Director 

Target Malaria, a research consortium funded primarily by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Philanthropy Project, aims to eradicate malaria-carrying species of mosquitoes using a new and high risk genetic modification tool called a ‘gene drive.’ As a first step in this process, they plan to release 10 000 genetically modified ‘male sterile’ mosquitoes in two villages in Burkina Faso. 

In November 2018, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity laid down strict conditions for the environmental release of gene drive organisms. These conditions require that “the ‘free, prior and informed consent” of “potentially affected indigenous peoples and local communities” is “sought or obtained” before any release is undertaken.

“A Question of Consent: Exterminator Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso” explores consent in the context of Target Malaria’s experimental mosquito release, through conversations with residents in the areas where Target Malaria is conducting tests and civil society groups in the region.