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


Live imaging reveals how wound healing influences cancer
Researchers in the United Kingdom and Denmark have studied the "see-through" larvae of zebrafish to reveal how wound healing leads to skin cancer.

Nanowire implants offer remote-controlled drug delivery
A team of researchers has created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled.

The successful ovulation of 100 eggs from 1 female mouse
The average number of eggs for genetically modified mice (knockout mice) obtained using previous methods of superovulation induction is about 20 but in reality the number is often much smaller, about 10 or less.

MERS coronavirus: Candidate vaccine gears up for clinical trials
Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have demonstrated, in a preclinical setting, the protective effect of a candidate vaccine directed against the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Planning for the first clinical trial is now underway.

NIAID-funded HIV vaccine research generates key antibodies in animal models
A trio of studies being published today in the journals Science and Cell describes advances toward the development of an HIV vaccine.

UGA researchers find potential treatment for fatal lung diseases
Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that the drug triciribine may reverse or halt the progression of pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension, two respiratory diseases that are almost invariably fatal.

Scripps Florida scientists identify a potential new treatment for osteoporosis
Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a new therapeutic approach that, while still preliminary, could promote the development of new bone-forming cells in patients suffering from bone loss.

Cancer drugs may hold key to treating Down syndrome and other brain disorders
A class of FDA-approved cancer drugs may be able to prevent problems with brain cell development associated with disorders including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, researchers at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have found.

Joslin research boosts evidence for a new class of treatments to help preserve vision
Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a leading source of vision loss around the world, affecting about a fifth of people with long-term diabetes. Drugs that target a protein known as VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) inside the eye have greatly improved the treatment options in recent years, but only about half of DME patients are fully responsive to these new therapies.

Epilepsy has been found to reduce the generation of new neurons
The mission of neural stem cells located in the hippocampus, one of the main regions of the brain, is to generate new neurons during the adult life of mammals, including human beings, of course, and their function is to participate in certain types of learning and responses to anxiety and stress.
More Genetically Modified Current Events and Genetically Modified News Articles

Intellectual Property and Genetically Modified Organisms: A Convergence in Laws

Intellectual Property and Genetically Modified Organisms: A Convergence in Laws
by Charles Lawson (Editor), Berris Charnley (Editor)


Taking a global viewpoint, this volume addresses issues arising from recent developments in the enduring and topical debates over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their relationship to Intellectual Property (IP). The work examines changing responses to the growing acceptance and prevalence of GMOs. Drawing together perspectives from several of the leading international scholars in this area, the contributions seek to break away from analysis of safety and regulation and examine the diversity of ways the law and GMOs have become entangled. This collection presents the start of a much broader engagement with GMOs and law. As GMO technology becomes increasingly more complex and embedded in our lives, this volume will be a useful resource in leading further discussion and debate...

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...

Food, Farms, and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century)

Food, Farms, and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century)
by Chaia Heller (Author)


The Confédération Paysanne, one of France's largest farmers' unions, has successfully fought against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but unlike other allied movements, theirs has been led by producers rather than consumers. In Food, Farms, and Solidarity, Chaia Heller analyzes the group's complex strategies and campaigns, including a call for a Europe-wide ban on GM crops and hormone-treated beef, and a protest staged at a McDonald's. Her study of the Confédération Paysanne shows the challenges small farms face in a postindustrial agricultural world. Heller also reveals how the language the union uses to argue against GMOs encompasses more than the risks they pose; emphasizing solidarity has allowed farmers to focus on food as a cultural practice and align themselves with other...

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 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 ...

Genetically Modified Crops (2nd Edition)

Genetically Modified Crops (2nd Edition)
by Nigel G. Halford (Author)


Plant molecular biology came to the fore in the early 1980s and there has been tremendous growth in the subject since then. The study of plant genes and genomes and the development of techniques for the incorporation of novel or modified genes into plants eventually led to the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops in the mid-1990s. This was seen as the start of a biotechnological revolution in plant breeding. However, plant biotechnology has become one of the hottest debates of the age and, in Europe at least, one of the greatest challenges that plant scientists have ever faced. This book covers the history and development of the science and techniques that underpin plant biotechnology. It describes the GM crops that are or have been grown commercially around the world,...

Genetically Modified Food Sources: Safety Assessment and Control

Genetically Modified Food Sources: Safety Assessment and Control
by Victor Tutelyan (Editor)


Genetically Modified Food Sources reports detailed results of studies on the medical and biological safety of 14 species of genetically modified plant-derived organisms (GMOs). The authors focus on issues in GMO production and world output, specifically the basic legislative regulations of modern biotechnology in the Russian Federation. Also covered are international approaches to the medical and biological assessment of safety and control of the food produced from genetically modified organisms. A special chapter is devoted to the problem of informational coverage of novel biological technologies. Previously available only in a 2007 Russian-language edition published by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, this English translation has been completely revised and updated to include...

Genetically Modified Prophecies, Whatever Happened to all the Sand and Stars God Promised to Abraham

Genetically Modified Prophecies, Whatever Happened to all the Sand and Stars God Promised to Abraham
by Victor Schlatter (Author)


Whatever happened to the promise?

...the one God made to Abraham that his descendants would be innumerable and what does that have to do with the rest of us today? As the world we once knew quickly unravels and the prophetic interpretations we once presumed credible crumble before our eyes, it s time to awaken to the possibility that the big-name visionaries of yesteryear may have zeroed in from the wrong angle. They told us as much as they saw, but after 1948, 1967, 9-11, and the current global disintegration, we see much more. Could it be that all those Abrahamic descendants are hiding in plain sight? Could it be that the Almighty was right after all? Genetically Modified Prophecies holds the key to understanding this prophetic predicament!

"Redemption is rooted in the...

Genetically Modified Foods, Gmo Foods

Genetically Modified Foods, Gmo Foods
by M. Malega


Dear Friend,

Would you like to know how to identify genetically modified food? If you want genetic foods or just wanted to know all about it, then you are on the right page!

In this eBook “Genetically Modified Foods”, I want you to learn everything you need to be able to recognize genetically modified food and how to know you eat healthy. Our bodies are complex mechanisms, the body observes what we eat and turns it into our cells and energy. Nowadays we need to pay attention to what we eat as many foods are unhealthy mainly because they are genetically modified. At the first glance its hard to identify as fruits and vegetables look attractive on the outside but on the inside they are genetically modified. Fortunately for us we still can identify genetically...

Seeds of Deception:  Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating

Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating
by Jeffrey M. Smith (Author)


Without knowing it, Americans eat genetically modified (GM) food everyday. While the food and chemical industries claim that GMO food is safe, a considerable amount of evidence shows otherwise. In Seeds of Deception, Jeffrey Smith, a former executive with the leading independent laboratory testing for GM presence in foods, documents these serious health dangers and explains how corporate influence and government collusion have been used to cover them up. The stories Smith presents read like a mystery novel. Scientists are offered bribes or threatened; evidence is stolen; data withheld or distorted. Government scientists who complain are stripped of responsibilities or fired. The FDA even withheld information from congress after a GM food supplement killed nearly a hundred people and...

© 2015 BrightSurf.com