Otago GE Wasp Project Violates International Gene Drive Agreement

GE-Free NZ,  Scoop,  2024.

Professor Dearden, Otago University, has received $11 million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) to engineer wasps using gene drive technology. He is only consulting with Māori and regulators, ignoring and side-lining the views of other concerned New Zealanders.

Gene Drives using gene editing CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) technology. This genetic engineering causes a permanent modification of the organisms genome, which is passed on to all subsequent generations. Gene drives are designed to impact reproduction or kill the developing larvae. Due to the irreversibility of gene drives, any out-crossing across species could collapse the insect ecosystems affecting pollinators and food security.

The approval of this gene drive application is a worldwide concern, as it overrides the decision on gene drives being considered at a global level through the UN Convention of Biodiversity (CBD). MBIE and researchers at the University of Otago have violated the agreement to work in unison with the international community. International concern has already been raised by the project.

More related to this:

Engineering biological diversity: the international governance of synthetic biology, gene drives, and de-extinction for conservation