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[NAIROBI] The International Centre for Insect Physiology (ICIPE) in Kenya is to lead efforts to construct a US$1.9 million plant that will manufacture an anti-mosquito pesticide. ICIPE will raise half of this sum, with the rest coming from partner organisations.

The factory will make Bacillus thuringiensis insecticide (named after the bacteria that naturally produces the toxin), which is commonly used to control mosquitoes. Although the chemical has been widely available for the past 50 years, manufacturing costs have until now been prohibitive to most developing countries.

Onesmo ole-Moi Yoi, director of research at ICIPE, said last week that the chemical would be produced using local materials, with the aim of making it cheap and affordable. ”Bacillus thuringiensis has had a 99.9 per cent success in the control of mosquito larvae where it has been used in other parts of the world,” he said.

The plant will initially be used for research purposes, specifically to test the use of local materials. Once commercial production begins, use of the insecticide will gradually be extended to other parts of Africa.

The African continent loses an estimated US$12 billion a year due to the effects of malaria on human health.

”We have abandoned mosquito control in the hope that drugs would control malaria or a vaccine would be developed, and forgotten that we could achieve a lot more by controlling mosquitoes,” says Hans Herren, director general of ICIPE.

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