Daily Management Review

Government Eye on Gene-Drive Technology while Leading Geneticists Laud the Benefits


Fears to be Looked into Over the Technology that has Potential to Prevent the Spread of Insect-Borne Diseases and Crop Pests

Government Eye on Gene-Drive Technology while Leading Geneticists Laud the Benefits
Science advisers to governments is most likely to investigate the fears expressed by some scientists about the potential ‘havoc’ that can be cause by “supercharged” genetically modified (GM) organisms and its method of creation is such GM were to be released without adequate safeguards into the wild.

The spread of GM genes within populations of fast-reproducing species, such as mosquitoes, is accelerated by the use of the technology that has been named as “gene drives. This genetically modified gene has the potential to prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases and crop pests and has the ability to reduce the amount of damage that can be caused by the invasive species.

One such attempt to impose strict controls on how the technology is used in laboratories in order to minimize the risks of an unintended escape with harmful consequences has begun in the United States with the US National Academy of Sciences reviewing genes drives and anguish being expressed by a group of 27 leading geneticists.

The striking new development of the gene technology has been identified to behave potentially large benefits as well as risks by two Government scientific advisory bodies in Britain.
The recent controversy over the gene drives has out it on the list of future agendas of the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council of the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation and the Advisory Committee on Releases into the Environment (Acre). This body oversees the filed trials of GM organisms.

“Though we have not actually discussed it as yet, I anticipate that we’ll be looking at it,” said said Professor Rosemary Hails of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology who chairs Acre.

According to Professor Joyce Tait of Edinburgh University, who sits on the leadership council of the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council informed that the body would is expected to include gene drives on the agenda of future meetings.

 “There are enormous potential benefits and it’ll be a pity if we just concentrate on the risks and therefore I expect that every synthetic biologist will be taking an interest in this area,” said Professor Tait.

After the initial introduction of the gene editing trait through the gene-drive technology, GM genes to be amplified within a breeding population of insects or other animals without any further intervention, much like in the nuclear chain reaction.

It was found out the a few generations of flies are needed to “infect” practically every other fly in the breeding population with a modified gene when the gene-drive technology was tried out in the laboratory. In normal course of life however much large periods of time are necessary to influence a genetic change among an entire v=breeding population of flies.

Despite the growing skepticism and proposals of strictness regarding the implementation of the gene-drive technology, a large section of biologists laud its potential benefits for human health by way of reducing insect populations that spreads human diseases, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, yellow fever or Lyme disease.

The proponents have identified other potential benefits of the technology such as their use in reversing the mutations that make pests resistant to agricultural pesticides and the use for the spread of genetic traits within populations of invasive species to help kill them off.

In the last week edition of the journal Science, 27 of the leading geneticists have asked other scientists to be open and transparent about their research on gene drives, which they believe could have major benefits in health, agriculture and conservation.

(Source: www.independent.co.uk)