Interview with Professor Austin Burt: Role of gene drive technology in the context of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030

S. Dunphy,  European Scientist,  2020.

The new EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 sets the ambitious target of halving the number of Red List species threatened by invasive species before 2030. However, current tools are insufficient to achieve this. Meanwhile, climate change is creating increasingly favourable conditions for the spread of various types of Asian tiger mosquitoes in Europe, bringing with it the potential risk of a greater incidence of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

In view of these conditions, leading scientists are calling on EU institutions to continue to back research into gene drive as a potential tool to protect public health and deliver on Europe’s biodiversity goals. Experts believe gene drive technologies could be a vital and effective solution in developing countries and islands, as well as across Europe.

On Thursday 29 October, researchers working on this technology will discuss the latest advances and the potential of gene drive technology with policymakers in an online event: Research and Innovation for biodiversity: what role for gene drive research?

In this interview, Austin Burt, a Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at Imperial College London and Principal Investigator of Target Malaria, answers some questions about his leading work on gene drive technology and his thoughts on the role of gene drive technology in the context of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030.

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