Social justice environmental activists move to block gene editing to control invasive species and promote biodiversity. Here’s why they’re misguided

S. Smyth,  Genetic Literacy Project,  2023.

Control of invasive species has been extremely difficult with eradication virtually impossible. To control invasive plant species, chemicals are commonly used while in some instances removal of plants by hand, as Shiva advocates, is undertaken. Efforts to control invasive animals include poisoning and shooting. Needless to say, these ‘control techniques’ are inefficient and often harmful to the applicators. Advances in genetics potentially offer new solutions, using gene editing technology to create sterile populations. Sterility is a natural trait in mammals, which can be induced into invasive animals as a means of population control. Invasive pests can be captured, gene-edited to confer sterility in future generations and then released back into the wild. The offspring will gradually without the use of chemicals or hand labor contribute to reduced populations. Applying gene editing technologies is not an instantaneous solution, but they may be part of a long-term strategy.

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