The University of California Irvine Malaria Initiative (UCIMI) describes their approach to site selection for field trials of genetically engineered mosquitoes (GEM) in a manuscript that is currently available online in bioRxiv. The site selection framework is specifically for GEM with gene drive for malaria control in Africa and is employed by UCIMI as part of their research program. The paper is titled "Selection of sites for field trials of genetically engineered mosquitoes with gene drive".
The stated goal of the framework is to identify a site that maximizes prospects for success, minimizes risk, and serves as a fair, valid, and convincing test of efficacy and impacts of a GEM product intended for eventual large-scale deployment in Africa. Site selection criteria prioritizes geographical, geological, and biological considerations, leading to the proposition that physical islands are the best candidates for field trials. UCIMI presents in the paper consideration of 22 African island sites, 5 islands within 2 island groups satisfy selection criteria within the framework and meet the stated goal.
UCIMI believes that this process provides a well-reasoned, science-based justification for selecting these sites for GEM field trials, and importantly, a solid foundation on which to approach ethical, social, and legal considerations with field site stakeholders.