GENE DRIVE ORGANISMS: Implications for the environment and nature conservation

M. Dolezel, S. Simon, M. Otto, M. Engelhard and W. Zughart,  Umweltbundesamt,  2020.

Recent advances in biotechnology aim at the genetic modification of wild living populations. Some potential applications consider self-propagating genetic elements to generate gene drive organisms (GDOs), also for nature conservation. Due to the potential of GDOs to spread spatially and temporally unlimited, impacts on the environment and ecosystems may be irreversible and are difficult to predict.
This technical report summarizes the status of gene drive applications currently discussed in the scientific literature. It outlines their potential implications for the environment and nature conservation and highlights challenges with respect to the environmental risk assessment and post-release monitoring of GDOs, in particular in a context of high complexity and uncertainty.

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