Gene drive has already been suggested as a possible tool to control grey squirrels in the UK, an invasive species responsible for the decline of the native red squirrel population since it was introduced in the 1870s. Now, scientists from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute are also considering using the technology to protect Britain's native, white-clawed crayfish from the invasive US signal crayfish.

The US species was introduced in the 1970s and has already wiped out white-clawed crayfish from some UK regions. Exiting control methods such as trapping have proved ineffective, and a gene drive crayfish carrying infertility genes could offer a solution to the invasive crustaceans. Further research is necessary to ensure that the technology is safe, as well as effective, but scientists are optimistic.

The Third Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG3) on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) starts on August 23. Countries and other relevant stakeholders will gather for two weeks to discuss goals and targets that will set the ambitions and guide biodiversity policies and action for the coming decades.

The final text will be adopted at the CBD Convention of Parties (COP-15) in Kunming, China, taking place from April 25 to May 08, 2022. If you want a preview of where discussions are heading, you can check the framework’s first draft here. This document is the result of several meetings, regional consultations, online submissions and two negotiation rounds over the past few years.

Dr. Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú, University of California Irvine Malaria Initiative (UCIMI) and University of California Irvine

Every year on August 20, we commemorate World Mosquito Day. Mosquitoes, these tiny blood-sucking insects, are the chief culprit in causing serious diseases such as malaria. Malaria is an ancient disease that has plagued people since the emergence of modern agriculture and civilization, and still poses a fatal threat to people all over the world. Some of the earliest written records of human diseases from Mesopotamia, India and China describe fever cycles that are recognizably malaria, and parasite DNA was recovered from human remains dating to the 5th century AD during the waning Roman Empire in Europe.

Scientists have successfully carried out studies in large cages mimicking natural conditions, demonstrating that gene drive can control malaria mosquito populations in laboratory settings. The outcomes of the research were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Aaron Roberts, McMaster University’s Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation (IEPI)

Through a collaboration between FNIH GeneConvene Global Collaborative and McMaster University’s Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation (IEPI), the Gene Drive Research Forum has developed a series of five panel discussions titled “Unsettled Ethical Issues in Gene Drive Research”. Participation is open to all!