Humans Have a Long History of Making ‘Very Bad Decisions’ to Save Animals

T. McDonnell,  The New York Times,  2022.

Environmental reporter Tim McDonnell on the potential negative consequences of animal conservation efforts. McDonnell highlights Target Malaria’s research on gene drive to “eliminate malaria-carrying mosquitos” and quotes New Zealand researcher Philipp Messer saying that the world is “ill-prepared” for a “real-life gene drive.” The article also quotes MIT biologist Kevin Esvelt saying that misuse of the technology would cause the public and policymakers to halt gene drive research and would set the field back by a decade. The article notes that there is no international regulation to “prevent the premature deployment of gene drive in the wild” and states that “individual governments, powerful funding organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and scientists themselves” are responsible for balancing the prevention of risky interventions with the need to support basic research. Esvlet is also quoted saying that the WHO needs to “establish a registry for all gene drive experiments that requires scientists to detail safeguards and find a local community who agrees to guide the research before experiments begin.”

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