‘Gene drive’ tech to control mice plagues

AAP,  Countryman,  2021.

As western NSW deals with a devastating mouse plague the government is investing in breakthrough genetic biocontrol research that could transform pest management in Australia. Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the NSW government would provide $1.8 million to the project to fast-track the delivery of next generation ‘gene drive’ technology to control future plagues. “The government has invested $50 million in a range of support measures, not only to mitigate the impacts of the mice currently crawling across so much of NSW, but also to create options to ensure we reduce the impact of future population spikes,” he said on Thursday. Until now farmers have had to rely on baiting and trapping to control mouse infestations but the government was now “fast-tracking critical research to bring mouse control into the 21st century”, he said. The three-year program of genetic biocontrol research will identify fast acting gene drives which are designed to spread an inherited characteristic through a population at higher-than-normal rates. Mr Marshall said it would also investigate the transferability of the technology to other pest species such as black rats, rabbits and feral cats using advanced computer modelling.

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