Scientists Evaluate Environmental Impacts of Gene Drive Organisms

Staff,  American Laboratory,  2020.

In gene drive organisms, the genome is altered using CRISPR/Cas-9 genome editing. Once the genome is modified, its alterations are carried down the organism’s offspring and subsequent generations.

Researcher Marion Dolezel, from the Environment Agency Austria, and a team of international scientists published in the open-access journal BioRisk, discuss the potential risks and impacts on the environment.

Chief issues address invasive alien species and biocontrol agents, and finds that the GMO regulations are, in principle, also a useful starting point for GDO.

Three benefits from gene drive systems include public health, agriculture, environmental protection and nature conservation. In recent years, research has demonstrated the feasibility of synthetic CRISPR-based gene drives in different organisms, such as yeast, mosquitoes and some mammalian organisms.

“The potential of GDOs for unlimited spread throughout wild populations, once released, and the apparently inexhaustible possibilities of multiple and rapid modifications of the genome in a vast variety of organisms, including higher organisms such as vertebrates, pose specific challenges for the application of adequate risk assessment methodologies,” commented Mrs. Dolezel, lead researcher.

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