The UK-based charity Comic Relief has launched a new project to enhance awareness of the importance to fight malaria. Mixing science and entertainment, the initiative selected three African filmmakers to reframe the malaria narrative using their creativity to appeal to local audiences while educating the public.

Researchers suggest that at least 900 species have gone extinct in the last five centuries. Several fauna and flora are either on the brink of or heading towards extinction today. Genetic rescue efforts using genomics or synthetic biology may be a solution to current conservation challenges.

The fear of unintended consequences should not suppress research and innovation. Inaction will result in more biodiversity loss when biotechnology could lead to a possible solution. Instead of focusing on unintended consequences, it is necessary to have a more balanced conversation and take the “Intended Consequences” of what can potentially be achieved through the use of genetic tools.

Researchers at The Pirbright Institute have successfully edited the genes of the southern house mosquito. The female of this species is the vector responsible for avian malaria transmission - a key contributor to the extinction of several species of birds - and for spreading human diseases such as lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis) and the West Nile virus.

The results of this study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 could be used to introduce a gene for a fluorescent protein into the genome of the mosquito, which was successfully inherited by its offspring. In the future, the same technique could be used to spread a desired trait (such as the inability to spread a disease or to produce fertile offspring) through the southern house mosquito’s population.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress is taking place in Marseilles September 3rd to 11th, in a hybrid virtual and physical format. As part of its virtual aspects, it has made available to the general public over 150 e-posters and presentations prepared by conference attendees on a myriad of issues vital to ongoing attempts to halt biodiversity loss. These include several prepared by the members of the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research and other researchers on topics related to gene drive. They will be available to all for the duration of the Congress, and those who have registered virtually will be able to ask questions or leave comments on them.

Check the e-posters below!

The IUCN World Conservation Congress will take place in a hybrid format from September 03-11 in Marseille, France. The event will bring together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business and academia to discuss major issues that will drive conservation and sustainable development actions for the next decades.

During the Congress, IUCN members will vote and adopt several motions, including the IUCN Principles on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation. Outcomes will ultimately influence the global conservation agenda and guide the policy and Programme for IUCN. Throughout the congress, there will also be several onsite and online events structured around seven main themes: landscapes, freshwater, oceans, climate change, rights and governance, economic and financial systems, knowledge, innovation & technology. The official programme is available here.