Species Extinction & the Case for a Global Moratorium on Gene Drives

M. Imken,  ARC,  2020.

One million species are currently threatened with extinction, and humanity faces the challenge of stopping the sixth mass extinction in the history of our planet. Yet a new technology called Gene Drive enables human beings to reprogram wild species by genetic engineering and to drive these species to self-destruction and extinction.

Gene Drive technology, which was developed in 2013, overrides the natural rules of evolution. Gene Drive Organisms (GDO) are genetically modified in the laboratory so that they pass on a new genetic trait to all their offspring – even if this prevents them from surviving.

Once released into nature, GDOs set off a chain reaction that can no longer be controlled. All descendants of a GDO (not 50% as is usual in nature) are carriers of the new trait as well as the manipulation mechanism (CRISPR-Cas), which forces this multiplication cascade to be repeated in all subsequent generations. In laboratory experiments, GDOs that produced only male offspring led to the collapse of insect and mouse populations after only a few generations.


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