Viewpoint: Is there a scientific basis to ban gene drive technology that can rid us of virus-carrying rodents and mosquitoes?

K. Vavitas,  Genetic Literacy Project,  2020.

Gene drives may be invaluable tools to control the spread of parasites, invasive species, and disease carriers. But the technology has faced strong opposition from activist groups and some mainstream scientists based on environmental and food safety. Are these concerns valid?

On June 30, some 80 environmental organizations, led by Greenpeace EU, Friends of the Earth Europe and Save Our Seeds, signed an open letter to the European Commission asking for support for a global moratorium on gene drive technology. The advocacy groups claimed that the release of gene drives “poses serious and novel threats to biodiversity and the environment at an unprecedented scale and depth”.

Citing a report by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), the coalition wrote:

…in light of the unpredictabilities, the lack of knowledge and the potentially severe negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, any releases (including experimental) of Gene Drive Organisms into the environment be placed on hold to allow proper investigation until there is sufficient knowledge and understanding.


More related to this:

Technology Factsheet: Gene Drives

Using gene drive technologies to control vector-borne infectious diseases

Applications of genetic technology to mosquito rearing

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