Gene drive has yet to be tested outside research laboratories, but the debate about whether its application is feasible, effective and ethical started a while ago. A recent article from The New York Times Magazine explores the opportunities and risks of developing the technology and presents an overview of the current status of gene drive research.

Gene drive has the potential to help to address significant global challenges, according to the publication. Scientists from the University of California-Irvine and Target Malaria (a non-profit research consortium administered by Imperial College, London) are studying the possibility of using gene drive to reduce and even eradicate vector-borne diseases, such as malaria. Gene drive also has the potential to be used for conservation purposes. Island Conservation and the GBIRd partnership are currently evaluating the use of gene drive to remove invasive rodents from islands, which are threatening native species and wildlife through predation, competition, and disease transmission.

In a recent edition, The Biologist magazine explores how gene drive works and how it could potentially benefit the environment, public health and agriculture. Scientists from the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh) broadly explain the main strategies genes can use to achieve ‘drive’, interference and over-replication, as well as the current state of CRISPR-based gene drive research. Although optimistic about the tool, the authors highlight that, before releasing gene drive organisms, it is necessary to conduct an in-depth analysis of their ecological impacts, a case-by-case risk assessment and meaningful engagement with potentially affected communities.

The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) released the Zero Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will form the basis for the second round of its negotiation next month in Kunming (China). The draft results from numerous Party submissions, several regional and thematic consultations, and the outcomes of other relevant CBD meetings.

The document contains background information, an introduction and recommendations of goals and targets for the new Framework. There is one target related to biosafety, aiming to prevent the potential adverse impacts of biotechnology on biodiversity. The target suggested focuses on the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol, sound risk assessment and the necessary legal and administrative biosafety measures to avoid and manage the potential adverse impacts.

Experts in conservation, invasive species and park management recently published a study in the journal Biological Invasions about how US National parks are struggling to protect their national habitats and wildlife. The spread of invasive species is to blame. To overcome this challenge, the authors recommend coordination among stakeholders and the appropriate use of emerging technologies.

The paper presents a detailed review of the invasive species and their management by the National Park Service. The invaders include mammals such as rats, cats, and feral pigs; aquatic species like lake trout and the quagga mussel; and reptiles, including the Burmese python. Statistics reveal that of the 1,409 reported populations of 311 invasive animal species in national parks, there are management plans for 23% and only 11% are being contained.

The Outreach Network of Gene Drive Research is pleased to announce that Revive & Restore is the latest organization to join the Network. Revive & Restore is a leading conservation organization promoting the incorporation of genetic tools into standard conservation practice to rescue endangered and extinct species. Revive & Restore is developing a spectrum of applications for these new tools that range from providing innovative genetic insights and rescue tools for persistent conservation challenges to reversing the inexorable demise of critically imperilled species.