Uttar Pradesh India. History News in 1 Minute Watch Later. Sorry, this content is not available in your country. Top Videos More. Army is supporting and sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir, admits Pakistan MP Trending Videos More. This is why insects are at the leading edge of gene drive research.
Gene drive is a new technology that could provide a solution to a variety of insect issues society faces today. For instance, a gene drive has been developed to stop a major crop pest, the spotted-wing Drosophila. Insecticide sensitivity could be spread through populations of this pest species to stop tens of millions of dollars in crop damage every year in the United States. In the United States, millions of dollars have been spent on removing fire ants using techniques including chemical insecticides, but if these persistent ants are not completely eradicated, they invade again.
Aside from how good insects are at circumventing our strategies to control them, another major struggle for controlling insects is finding them. Insects have evolved to quickly find the opposite sex to mate, and gene drives, which are passed on by mating, can take advantage of this fact of insect life.
This also means this technology targets only the intended species, which is not the case for chemical insecticides currently in use. Insect scientists, inspired by natural examples of gene drive, have wanted to design gene drive in insects for decades. For now, gene drive insects live in laboratories and none has been released into the wild.
Still, a lot can be learned about how gene drive works while it is safely contained in a laboratory. Criticisms of gene driveUsing gene drive is not a universally popular idea.
Criticisms tend to fall into three categories: ethical concerns, mistrust of technology and unintended ecological consequences. Ethical concerns about gene drive are often motivated by larger issues, such as how to stop gene drive from being used in biological weapons by engineering insects that are more dangerous. Then there is the question of who should decide which gene drive projects move forward and what types of insects with gene drive can be released into the environment.
Societal mistrust of technology is a hurdle that some powerful, innovative technologies must overcome for public acceptance. The issue of technological mistrust often stems from disagreements about who should be developing technology to control insects and for what purposes.
The third common argument against gene drive technologies is that they might cause unintended consequences in the ecosystem because gene drive is designed by humans and unnatural. What will happen to the natural ecosystem if a population, even of mosquitoes that make people sick, is driven to extinction? Will this cause threats to natural biodiversity and the security of food? These questions are ultimately asking the consequences of intervening in the natural order of the world.
But who defines what is the natural state of an ecosystem? Ecosystems are already constantly in flux. Preparing for a future that may include gene drive insectsWhen a gene drive is developed, it is tailored to the needs of a particular situation. This means the anticipated risks posed by each gene drive are project-specific and should be considered and regulated on a case-by-case basis.
A responsible way to protect society from these risks is to advocate for continued research that enables scientists to describe and find solutions to them. Beyond the science, regulatory and accountability systems are needed so that regulations are adhered to and public safety is protected. Researchers are also still exploring the science underlying the gene drive.
Can gene drive be designed to be reversible or more efficient? Can the effect of a gene drive on an ecosystem be predicted? Such important unanswered questions are why even the most ardent supporters of this technology say more research is needed.
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