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  • Hello. My name is Les Firbank

  • and I am an expert at EFSA specialising in sustainable agriculture.

  • Today, I am going to talk to you about gene drives.

  • All living creatures contain genes.

  • Usually, when two individuals mate, each parent passes

  • one of the two copies of each gene onto their offspring.

  • So each copy has a 50% chance of passing on to the next generation.

  • Gene drives, on the other hand, increase the probability of inheritance of a gene up to 100%.

  • As a result, a gene drive can spread through population much faster than a normal gene.

  • Gene drives can be found naturally.

  • But recent developments in molecular biology are allowing scientists to engineer gene drives

  • and use them to push desirable genes into target populations.

  • This has opened the door for using gene drives to:

  • wipe out disease carriers, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria,

  • control agricultural pests like fruit flies,

  • eradicate invasive species like rodents from islands,

  • and rescue endangered species threatened by pathogens.

  • Research in the field of gene drives is advancing rapidly.

  • And different gene drives have already been developed that rely on different strategies.

  • Their two main aims are either to suppress or replace pest populations.

  • In insects, suppression drives aim to reduce the size of a pest population.

  • A way to achieve this is throughinactivationof important genes involved in survival or reproduction.

  • Replacement drives, on the other hand, aim to change the genetic makeup of an organism

  • so it can no longer transmit a disease, or it is more resistant to a pathogen.

  • While gene drives hold much promise, their development and deliberate release

  • into the environment raise concerns about the potential for uncontrolled

  • and self-sustained spread of some gene drives,

  • undesired side effects

  • and the possibility of altering ecosystems irreversibly.

  • So it's essential that gene drive research and releases are done safely,

  • responsibly, and involve societal engagement.

  • Scientific advisory bodies like EFSA, assess potential adverse effects on humans,

  • animals and the environment, from deploying gene drive modified organisms.

  • Decision-makers, such as the European Commission and Member States, use that advice to weigh up

  • the potential risks and benefits of such organisms

  • and also take account of social and economic factors

  • in deciding whether they should be used and how.

Hello. My name is Les Firbank

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B1 US gene pest potential transmit drive disease

What is gene drives about?

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/24
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