It is becoming more and more widely acknowledged that if proposed gene drive applications to control malaria (currently among the most advanced gene drive technologies being researched) prove successful, the use of gene drives will not stop there. A new report by a team of experts based out of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins University has sought to lay out recommendations for the safe and responsible governance of gene drives once they have become a normalized tool in the field of public health and beyond.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that the registration for the 138th Plenary Meeting of the Genetically Modified Organisms Panel is now open until June 24. The meeting will be open to observers and take place on July 1-2 online. More information is available on the EFSA’s website.

The agenda includes the outcomes of the public consultation about the adequacy of existing guidelines on risk assessment to enable appropriate evaluations of gene drive mosquitoes. With the consultation, EFSA aimed to assess whether its current guidelines are adequate for the molecular characterization and environmental risk assessment of genetically modified insects with synthetically engineered gene drives.

With the Covid-19 pandemic closing down economic activities around the world, there has been much discussion about human relationship to nature. Stories about wild animals taking back spaces normally used by people, but also complex issues around wildlife trade and the impact of the lockdown on poaching highlight the impact that human activity has on the environment in a myriad of ways. It also highlights that nature is resilient and would rapidly adapt if human activity was to change. This gives us hope that biodiversity loss and environmental damage could be reversed or mitigated if we adopt different lifestyles and consumption patterns.  Nature’s resiliency and ingenuity should be a source of inspiration and innovation.

Scientists have discovered a microbe, Microsporidia MB, that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria. The microbe was found in the gut and genitals of mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Lab experiments confirmed that Microsporidia gave the mosquitoes protection and suggested 100% blockage of the malaria parasite. However, it is yet not clear how the microbe stops the disease.

Researchers are now investigating two methods to increase the number of mosquitoes carrying Microsporidia: the release en masse of the microbe's spores, and the release of male mosquitoes infected in the lab with Microsporidia to pass on the microbe to females when they mate.

The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) launched the APMEN TechTalks, a series of webinars to exchange research information on malaria eradication and discuss technical topics of interest. The APMEN Vector Control Working Group will host the sessions, which will focus on vector control methods. Topics of discussion include surveillance programs, insecticide resistance, endectocide-based vector control, social engagement for personal transmission risk reduction, among others.