Scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders will need to balance the risks and benefits before testing and deploying gene drive-modified mosquitoes, as they would do with any other novel tool. In a recent paper published at the journal Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, researchers discuss the standards for judging whether an investigational gene drive product is ready for field trials. The report summarizes the outcomes of two workshops organized in 2019, aiming to identify efficacy and safety characteristics that must be minimally met before moving to the field testing stage.

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative launched a series of quizzes, crafts, puzzles, games and other activities to raise awareness about the negative impact of invasive alien species on biodiversity. The educational resources are aimed at primary school students, offering numerous indoors and outdoors activities. Have fun with your family, friends or students and even earn an “Alien Detectives Certificate”.

Invasive species are the second greatest cause of plant and animal species loss globally. One of the potential application of gene drive is to help protect biodiversity by reducing populations of invasive species on islands.

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.