Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Available information on the free release of genetically modified insects into the wild is highly restricted

February 02, 2012

While genetically modified plants have already been introduced into the wild on a large scale in some parts of the world, the release of genetically modified animals is still at a relatively early stage. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany has now published a study examining the free release of genetically modified insects in Malaysia, USA, and Cayman Islands. Their findings suggest deficits in the scientific quality of regulatory documents and a general absence of accurate experimental descriptions available to the public before releases start. The researchers call for clear and accurate descriptions of releases to be very widely circulated before insects are released in a trial - particularly if mosquito species that bite humans are involved. They also provide an innovative checklist to assist journalists and the public in assessing the scientific credibility of regulatory release authorizations.

Genetically modified insects are being developed with a view to suppress insect populations of the same species which spread human diseases, such as malaria and Dengue Fever, or that are agricultural pests destroying crops. The first generation of "designer insects" have been engineered to be fluorescently marked, to be sterile to varying degrees, or both. These insects are released experimentally to develop species-specific and chemical-free ways to reduce the size of insect pest populations.

A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology have now investigated the regulatory history of genetically modified insects, with a particular focus on the pre-release information available to the public in the first three countries permitting free releases: the Cayman Islands (mosquitoes, 2009-?), Malaysia (mosquitoes, 2010-2011), and the USA (moths, 2001-2011). The study centres on the US regulatory experience, which is currently being promoted as a global regulatory model for genetically modified insects.
Global deficits in transparency and public oversight

The world's first environmental impact statement on genetically altered insects was produced by US authorities in 2008 and has since then been used as a basis for approval of subsequent experiments around the world. The scientists raise some doubts about the scientific value of this environmental impact statement: for example the majority of novel transgenic approaches it endorses are based on just two laboratory studies out of approximately 170 scientific studies cited. These two studies focus only one of the four species covered by the document. Apparently, such deficits do not only apply to the US. "We noted that public access to scientific information is highly restricted throughout the world, particularly information made available before releases start", says Guy Reeves from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.

The Cayman Islands was in 2009 the site of the first free release of genetically modified mosquitoes. There were, however, some doubts about the relative strength of the legal safeguards that existed. The Cayman Islands had no enacted legislation specifically mentioning the release or transportation of living genetically modified organisms. In 2009 only 21 of the world's 191 countries also had not updated their existing environmental protection or animal control laws to specifically regulate living genetically modified organisms. While the Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory and consequently not a sovereign state, it is noteworthy that none of these 21 countries is thought to have approved any release of a living genetically modified organism.

The first and most obvious question of people living in the release sites of the genetically modified mosquitoes (OX513a) in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia, and Brazil is whether humans can be bitten by genetically modified mosquitoes. In public information available in the Cayman Islands and Malaysian trials, this obvious question is either conspicuously ignored or it is implied that the there is no biting risk, 'as only male mosquitoes are released and they cannot bite'. However, it is clearly detailed by the Max Planck scientists, that it is probable that transgenic daughters of the released males will bite humans. This is because the released males are more accurately described as partially sterile males, rather than the commonly used term sterile males - or most recently 'sterile' males.

A potential concern about the effects of humans being bitten by these genetically modified females is discussed. The context of this discussion is not to suggest that this technology is inherently dangerous. It is to highlight the fact that public confidence in regulators will be eroded, if written discussion of obvious and scientifically plausible concerns is conspicuously absent from all written documents. As far as the authors are aware there are no publically available documents that scientifically consider possible human health impacts of being bitten by transgenic females (beyond unsubstantiated statements in the general media).
Community engagement and consent requires transparency

The general lack of accurate information available before starting releases is problematic. This is because community engagement fundamentally requires that release descriptions be widely circulated before releases start. The need for high-quality community engagement, particularly in early releases, has repeatedly been argued as essential by expert scientists. "It is rather uncontroversial to state that in the absence of meaningful and accurate descriptions being made widely available, community engagement cannot credibly be said to have occurred", says Reeves.

If those that conducted the trials cannot produce pre-release written descriptions, then they need to explicitly state why meaningful community engagement and consent might not be necessary for experimental releases into towns and cities. Individuals providing justifications based on the pressing humanitarian need to rush development of this technology, must also explain why the same argument cannot be applied to clinical trials of vaccines.
Giving genetically modified insects a fair trial

Large numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes are currently being released in Brazil. Further releases are reportedly under evaluation in various countries, including France, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK. Proposed experimental releases are for both human health purposes and to control agricultural pests.

Given the enormous human burden of diseases like dengue fever and crop loss from insect attack, it is important that new control techniques are developed. Field trials are an essential step in the evaluation process. "However, we need an informed public to ensure that experimental testing of this potentially valuable technology can be given a fair chance and that testing does not needlessly provoke public mistrust", says Reeves. Avoiding the kind of questionable practices which characterized the commercial development of genetically modified plant is likely to be important.

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


Related Genetically Modified Current Events and Genetically Modified News Articles


New tools to manipulate biology
Chemistry has provided many key tools and techniques to the biological community in the last twenty years. We can now make proteins that Mother Nature never thought of, image unique parts of live cells and even see cells in live animals.

A tool to support public health decisions on Zika virus predicts most planned interventions to be cost-effective
A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases presents a cost-effectiveness tool that can help guide decisions regarding resource allocation to fund interventions targeted at curtailing the ongoing Zika virus outbreak.

Modified microalgae converts sunlight into valuable medicine
Researchers from Copenhagen Plant Science Centre at University of Copenhagen have succeeded in manipulating a strain of microalgae to form complex molecules to an unprecedented extent.

Junction opening protein boosts cancer-killing effect of oncolytic virus
A new study shows that the anti-tumor effect of oncolytic virus therapy is significantly greater in mice when the virus is genetically modified to express a junction opening (JO) protein, which helps the cancer-killing agent better penetrate solid tumors.

Ebola vaccine: Promising phase I trials
"The results for tolerability, safety, and the immune response to the vaccine candidate are very promising," explains Prof Marylyn Addo.

CNIC researchers identify a new signaling mechanism implicated in congenital aortic valve disease
Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) have demonstrated the crucial role of the NOTCH signaling pathway in the development of a fundamental heart structure, the heart valves.

New study illuminates key aspects of how we fall asleep and wake up
Falling asleep and waking up are key transitions in everyone's day. Millions of people have trouble with these transitions - they find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, and hard to stay awake during the day.

Mammalian fertilization, caught on tape
The development of every animal in the history of the world began with a simple step: the fusion of a spermatozoon (the male gamete) with an oocyte, or egg (the female gamete).

Genetically modified E. coli pump out morphine precursor
A common gut microbe could soon be offering us pain relief. Japanese bioengineers have tweaked Escherichia coli genes so that they pump out thebaine, a morphine precursor that can be modified to make painkillers.

Body's immune system may play larger role in Alzheimer's disease than thought
Immune cells that normally help us fight off bacterial and viral infections may play a far greater role in Alzheimer's disease than originally thought, according to University of California, Irvine neurobiologists with the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.
More Genetically Modified Current Events and Genetically Modified News Articles

Genetically Modified Foods: Basics, Applications, and Controversy

Genetically Modified Foods: Basics, Applications, and Controversy
by Salah E. O. Mahgoub (Author)


An increasingly hot-button issue, genetically modified (GM) food is considered by some as the best way to feed the world’s growing population, and by others as an experiment gone wrong on the unsuspecting public. Genetically Modified Foods: Basics, Applications, and Controversy details the basics of biotechnology and its applications in the laboratory and the field. It provides a balanced presentation of the pros and cons of GM foods, examining the arguments of proponents and opponents, and covering regulations governing GM food labeling. The book includes definitions of biotechnology considered from different perspectives; examines different techniques, including their advantages and shortcomings; and highlights the unintended consequences of traditional and modern GM techniques. The...

What's So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food? (Food Controversies)

What's So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food? (Food Controversies)
by John T. Lang (Author)


The rampant use of genetically modified food incites fierce and seemingly intractable debates among environmental activists, scientists, government regulators, and representatives of the food and agriculture industries. While some portray GMOs as scientific progress, others frame them as a form of perverted science. But why, exactly, are they so controversial? This timely and balanced book explores the science—and myth—that surrounds genetically modified food in order to help us understand just what’s at stake.
 
John T. Lang begins by grounding the debates in the biology and chemistry behind genetic modification. He then shows how food is deeply imbued with religious, social, cultural, and ethical meanings, which bring a variety of non-scientific issues to the forefront...

The GMO Takeover: How to Avoid Monsanto and These Harmful Foods (GMO, Genetically Modified Foods) (Avoiding Toxic GMO Foods and Monsanto to Stay Healthy Book 1)

The GMO Takeover: How to Avoid Monsanto and These Harmful Foods (GMO, Genetically Modified Foods) (Avoiding Toxic GMO Foods and Monsanto to Stay Healthy Book 1)


WARNING : In this book you are going to find out the secrets Monsanto has been keeping for years of what is in our food supply:

How harmful and toxic GMO foods are to humans

How Monsanto is slowly taking over the food supply

How genetically modified foods affect the environment

What are some common foods that contain GMO ingredients

What you can do to protect you and your family from consuming these awful foods

If you want to learn more about the GMO problem in America and around the world this is the book for you. Monsanto and others are waging a war on food and it is up to us, the consumers, to stop them!

Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods

Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods
by Alan McHughen (Author)


Did you know that there are fish genes in some tomatoes? That Brazil nut genes in soybeans can result in potentially lethal allergic reactions? That rapeseed plants bred to be resistant to herbicides could become uncontrollable superweeds? Genetically modified foods do pose real risks, and in recent years they have become the focus of a pitched battle between scientists, entrepreneurs, consumer advocates, and environmentalists. Yet despite the great heat generated by the debate, there is very little real information on the subject, either about the technologies in use or about the regulatory processes established to protect us from potentially dangerous products.
Pandora's Picnic Basket explains, in clear and direct language, the technologies underlying genetically modified...

Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability

Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
by Bruno McGrath (Author)


"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein This ebook points out the surrounding issues of genetically modified fruit and vegetables that consumers are unaware of. While several parties defend the use of technology to create food, it appears that little is being done to increase awareness about this matter to the end consumer. It also points out alternative food sustainability options such as organic farming and land management. This ebook will indicate that although some parties agree that genetically modified food items are cost effective and considered safe, its long-term results have not been adequately researched and the use of pesticides on these items are far higher than for other types farming or food products.

Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology (Contemporary Issues Series)

Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology (Contemporary Issues Series)
by Michael Ruse (Editor), David Castle (Editor)


Finally, the real story about corporate America with its increased reliance on consultants. Since the 1990s, consulting solutions have become the de facto standard for solving business problems and providing cover for corporate decision makers. This is not the typical CEO whitewash, or business management primer. Steve Romaine offers a view never before shared with management or stockholders as he takes a hired gun's journey beginning at the outside looking in, and ending at the pinnacle of a corporation's power.

Based on his experience of working for IBM, his later role as a self-employed consultant, and finally his responsibilities as senior vice president for NationsBank, Romaine makes it clear that the issues leading to the collapse of Enron were not isolated events. Soldier of...

Genetically Modified Foods : Banned By Other Countries but is a main staple of o (Genetically modified organisms, Gmo, Food that ruin your life, Gmo Foods, organic food, Food addiction) (Volume 1)

Genetically Modified Foods : Banned By Other Countries but is a main staple of o (Genetically modified organisms, Gmo, Food that ruin your life, Gmo Foods, organic food, Food addiction) (Volume 1)
by Mano Hano (Author)


Quick Knowledge…..meant to provide the reader with short, simple and to the point knowledge of GMOs. In this e-book reader will find the following knowledge:- - List of 10 Banned foods that everyone in America should avoid eating. - Why many foods and food products we consume in United States are banned in other countries. - What is the alternative?

Monsanto vs. the World: The Monsanto Protection Act, GMOs and Our Genetically Modified Future

Monsanto vs. the World: The Monsanto Protection Act, GMOs and Our Genetically Modified Future
by Jason Louv (Author)


Monsanto—one of the largest agriculture and biotech companies in the world—creates genetically engineered seeds and food, or GMOs. They've also brought us toxic chemicals like DDT, PCBs and even Agent Orange.  But what is Monsanto truly doing to our diet—and why do many consider their business practices deeply abusive? Are GMOs the solution to world hunger, or a shockingly dangerous threat to our health? And does Monsanto really, as some suggest, control much of the United States' agriculture and food departments?  Meticulously researched, Monsanto vs. the World puts to rest the myths and shows the shocking reality, delving into the science of GMOs, the political machinations of Monsanto in Washington and around the world, and showing what you can do to keep GMOs off your plate...

GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen's Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition

GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen's Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition
by Claire Robinson Mphil (Author), Michael Antoniou PhD (Author), John Fagan PhD (Author)


It is often claimed that the case against genetically modified (GM) crops and foods is based on emotion, not science, and that to oppose GM crop and food technology is to be anti-science. It is also claimed that GM crops offer higher yields and better nutrition, that they are safe for health and the environment, that they reduce agrochemical use, and that they are needed to feed the world’s growing population. This book, co-authored by two genetic engineers and a writer/researcher, exposes these claims as false, using scientific and other documented evidence. GMO Myths and Truths summarizes the facts on the safety and efficacy of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods in terms that are accessible to the non-scientist but still relevant to scientists, policymakers and educators. The...

Genetically Modified Organisms: The Mystery Unraveled

Genetically Modified Organisms: The Mystery Unraveled
by PhD Miriam Jumba (Author)


Products of gene modification have vast implications. Creating public awareness and disseminating information on the subject seeks to demystify some of the widely held falsehoods regarding genetically modified products. This is an informative, thorough and easy-to-understand guide book that aims to enlighten and debunk some of the commonly held misconceptions on products of gene modification and to give the reader a better understanding of the role genetic modification will play. The review sheds light on the safety, and application of these products in medicine, the food industry and other areas, especially those where genetic modification may ...

© 2016 BrightSurf.com