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


Ras protein regulates circadian rhythm
Biochemists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have gained new insights into the generation and maintenance of circadian rhythms.

Spinal cord neurons that control pain and itch
Sensing pain is extremely unpleasant and sometimes hard to bear - and pain can even become chronic. The perception of pain varies a lot depending on the context in which it is experienced.

Buyer's remorse -- model shows people demand all that bad news
Bad news in the media got you down? News consumers have only themselves to blame, says new research showing that it's actually buying habits that drive negative press.

Jailbreaking yeast could amp up wine's health benefits, reduce morning-after headaches
University of Illinois scientists have engineered a "jailbreaking" yeast that could greatly increase the health benefits of wine while reducing the toxic byproducts that cause your morning-after headache.

Optogenetics without the genetics
Light can be used to activate normal, non-genetically modified neurons through the use of targeted gold nanoparticles, report scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

New findings on 'key players' in brain inflammation
Inflammatory processes occur in the brain in conjunction with stroke and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Genetically modified soybean oil only slightly healthier than regular soybean oil
A new soybean oil genetically modified to be healthier than conventional soybean oil causes obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver in a nearly identical manner to that of regular soybean oil when part of a typical American high-fat diet, an animal study shows.

How healthy is genetically modified soybean oil?
Soybean oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all the seed oil production in the United States. Genetically modified (GM) soybean oil, made from seeds of GM soybean plants, was recently introduced into the food supply on the premise that it is healthier than conventional soybean oil.

Joslin scientists find direct link between insulin resistance and behavioral disorders
People with diabetes are more prone to anxiety and depression than those with other chronic diseases that require similar levels of management. The reasons for this aren't well understood, but Joslin Diabetes Center researchers have discovered one potential explanation.

Quality control for adult stem cell treatment
A team of European researchers has devised a strategy to ensure that adult epidermal stem cells are safe before they are used as treatments for patients.
More Genetically Modified Current Events and Genetically Modified News Articles

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: Opening Pandora's Box with Genetically Modified Food

Genetically Modified Organisms: Opening Pandora's Box with Genetically Modified Food
by Choice PH


Genetically modified foods are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. These techniques have allowed for the introduction of new crop traits as well as far greater control over a food's genetic structure than previously afforded by methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.

This eBook highlights the history of genetic engineering and the advantages and disadvantages of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The advantages would be the speed with which a desirable change can be brought about in both plants and animals. The disadvantages to these rapid changes and what some people fear would be "Genetic Drift". Since GMO crops are planted like non-GMO crops, these GMO crops...

Genetically Modified Language: The Discourse of Arguments for GM Crops and Food

Genetically Modified Language: The Discourse of Arguments for GM Crops and Food
by Guy Cook (Author)


The GM debate is as much a war of words as of facts. Food and farming are being changed forever - yet whether for good or bad is the subject of an increasingly bitter argument. Those promoting GM have mounted an intense campaign, characterising their opponents as terrorists and Luddites, governed by ignorance, irrationality and hysteria. Yet public opinion remains unconvinced and antagonistic. As the argument intensifies and the voices on all sides get louder, Genetically Modified Language cuts through the confusion and controversy to the issues and ideology at the heart of the disagreement.

Guy Cook subjects the language of the case for GM to a careful and detailed examination. He looks in turn at the persuasive strategies used by politicians, scientists, the media, biotechnology...

Genetically Modified Organisms Are Killing Us: A Call to Action

Genetically Modified Organisms Are Killing Us: A Call to Action
by George McClelland


The world is a giant experimental lab for the GMO chemists. They have bought the elected representatives who have allowed them to write laws to benefit themselves and no one else. They ban independent scientific research because they know the negative outcome. They have sued farmers who planted non GMO crops that were damaged by GMO crops nearby.

They have cost the farmers of America Millions of dollars if not billions in foreign sales. Farmers who were selling all their crops overseas suddenly do not have a market. They have just brought a billion dollar law suit against Magenta.

• No safety tests were made. The only thing that was really tested was the effectiveness of GMO crops to resist insects and herbicides. For a while they worked but nature is...

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 Food: How Biotechnology Is Changing What We Eat (Science and Society)

Genetically Modified Food: How Biotechnology Is Changing What We Eat (Science and Society)
by Jeri Freedman (Author)


Book by Freedman, Jeri

Genetically Modified Foods (Essential Viewpoints)

Genetically Modified Foods (Essential Viewpoints)
by Lillian E. Forman (Author)


Examines genetically modified foods, describing current research, health concerns, and their effect on modern agriculture, business, and politics.
Title: Genetically Modified Foods
Author: Forman, Lillian E.
Publisher: Abdo Group
Publication Date: 2009/08/15
Number of Pages: 112
Binding Type: LIBRARY
Library of Congress: 2008034906

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...

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

Genetically Modified Crops
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 commercialization 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 is a description of the history and development of the science and techniques that underpin plant biotechnology, GM crops that are grown commercially around the world and the new varieties that...

© 2015 BrightSurf.com