What are gene drivers and why do 300,000 people want them banned?

Ecologists in Action and Madrid Agroecologico submitted 300,000 citizen signatures to the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, asking Minister Teresa Ribera to give Spain a boost. International moratorium on technology for the release of organisms modified with gene drives (OIG) It will be discussed during the negotiations of the XV Conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in December.

During the delivery of the signatures, the participants risks to human health and the environment of this new gene technology.

Activists claimed with a banner that this genetic engineering technology contained an international moratorium and “danger” for environmentalists.

This is a new technique for “bypassing” the rules of biological inheritance and forcing the transmission of a genetic trait to all offspring, even if it is lethal for the species.. So far, gene drive experiments have been performed under limited conditions (in the laboratory or in closed containers), but OIGs are planned to be released into the environment in the near future.

They fear that the new technique will affect all species, not just pests. area of ​​interest

The purpose of gene drivers would be to eliminate populations of insects that act as disease vectors, invasive species. or the so-called weeds and pests of industrial agriculture.

multiple threats

While the applications look very promising, they also carry enormous risks, as science warns. Once released into the wild, gene-driven organisms cannot be undone and their evolution and dispersal cannot be controlled.

Specifically, they warn of the deliberate modification and elimination of species. poses a threat to the stability of ecosystems, sustainable agriculture and human healthwith results that are difficult to predict with available information.

Therefore, the disappearance of a species may promote the spread of potentially more harmful species, for example; or by causing a change in the vector that transmits a disease, causing it to spread over a wider area. On the other hand, they argue that many wild species, including those considered pests, perform valuable ecosystem services such as pollinating crops.

Pollinators may be affected pixabay

Theo Oberhuber, spokesperson for Ecologists in Action, said: a mutagenic chain reaction triggered by gene drive organisms could destabilize entire ecosystems and in extreme cases, it will cause it to crash.

“The release of gene drivers – even if ‘only’ for experimental purposes – can have unpredictable and irreversible consequences for pollinators and food webss has already weakened due to climate change and the high mortality of insects,” he warned.

Marian Simón, spokesperson for the Madrid Agroecologico, added that organisms with gene drives “did not respect borders” and could spread around the world.

According to him, so far The international community has neither sufficient knowledge nor binding international agreements to regulate such a fundamental response. and irreversible in nature. “We urgently need a global moratorium on gene drivers,” he demanded.

Finally, Ecologists in Action spokesman Francisco Segura called for an “immediate” halt to species extinction, resilience and destruction of ecosystems, rather than “playing evolution with Russian roulette” by genetically modifying wild species. in many parts of the world”.


Environment department contact address:[email protected]

Source: Informacion


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