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Gene Drives

July 25, 2014

Genetic modifications in the wild could limit the impact of pest species.




(Centers for Disease Control)

Modifying wild populations. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Gene drives are a kind of genetic modification causing most of a wild organism’s offspring to carry a new trait. With it, scientists could alter mosquitoes so they can’t carry malaria, make weeds more susceptible to herbicides, or even eradicate an invasive species. In the journal Science, MIT engineer and political scientist Kenneth Oye and his colleagues say rapid advances in the technology mean that it’s time to step back and make sure we have the policies and regulations needed to safeguard environmental health and public safety.


It’s not a call to be made by just one little lab group. One reason why we did this piece in Science was to try to spur that broader discussion and to get it going before these things are developed and field tested.


And since genes don’t stop at borders, the discussions will have to be international in scope. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.