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


Clock gene dysregulation may explain overactive bladder
If you think sleep problems and bladder problems are a fact of life in old age, you may be right. A new report appearing in the November 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that our sleep-wake cycles are genetically connected to our bladder, and disruptions to one may cause problems with the other.

Synapses always on the starting blocks
While neurons rapidly propagate information in their interior via electrical signals, they communicate with each other at special contact points known as the synapses.

Plant communities produce greater yield than monocultures
Although monocultures can be cultivated efficiently, they are anything but sustainable: environmental damage to soil and water caused by monoculture cultivation is becoming increasingly evident.

Researchers identify potential drug that could help treat cystic fibrosis
By screening over 2,000 approved drugs and natural products, scientists have shown that tannic acid may help ease the impact of bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

Manipulating memory with light
Just look into the light: not quite, but researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology have used light to erase specific memories in mice, and proved a basic theory of how different parts of the brain work together to retrieve episodic memories.

CNIO researchers associate 2 oncogenes with the agressiveness and incidence of leukaemia in mice
Proteins regulating cell division determine tumour growth. Ongoing clinical trials are currently studying inhibitors for two of these proteins, Cdk4 and Cdk6, targeting several types of cancer, such as breast cancer, lung cancer and leukaemia.

Researchers Pump Up Oil Accumulation in Plant Leaves
Increasing the oil content of plant biomass could help fulfill the nation's increasing demand for renewable energy feedstocks.

Gothenburg researchers identify molecule that protects women's eggs
A new study led by Professor Kui Liu at the University of Gothenburg has identified the key molecule 'Greatwall kinase' which protects women's eggs against problems that can arise during the maturation process.

New ways to treat anemia could evolve from acetate supplement research
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers seeking novel treatments for anemia found that giving acetate, the major component of household vinegar, to anemic mice stimulated the formation of new red blood cells.

Sensing Neuronal Activity With Light
For years, neuroscientists have been trying to develop tools that would allow them to clearly view the brain's circuitry in action-from the first moment a neuron fires to the resulting behavior in a whole organism.
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.

GMO Food Poison Handbook: 'Genetically-Modified' Agriculture and Animals

GMO Food Poison Handbook: 'Genetically-Modified' Agriculture and Animals
by Charles Sutherland (Author)


"GMO crops are scientifically created to BE poisonous and to ABSORB poison." “The American chemical industry, having taken control of agriculture, has achieved something never before accomplished in the history of mankind: humans who are simultaneously overfed and undernourished...and poisoned." The GMO Food Poison Handbook is a summary of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), 'food products' created by Monsanto and other chemical companies. In simple terms it describes how the various GMO ‘food products’ create biological and medical problems, including birth defects, cancer, and diabetes. To better inform the reader, the Handbook provides simple descriptions of 20 body organs which are affected, as well as the nature of allergies, obesity, and cancer – and the male and female...

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: 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...

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...

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 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: Resources for Environmental Literacy

Genetically Modified Crops: Resources for Environmental Literacy
by Environmental Literacy Council (Author)


Supporters of genetic engineering point to the potential of genetically modified (GM) crops to improve human health and increase environmental protection. But some concerned groups argue that the risks of GM crops may outweigh their benefits. These groups urge avoiding GM crops, or at least subjecting them to more rigorous government scrutiny. Without taking sides, this module shows how to use the issues surrounding GM crops as a powerful learning context for teaching ideas about the nature of science and genetics and how science and technology interact and influence each other in our society.

Going Against GMOs Call-to-Action Special Edition: The Fast-Growing Movement to Avoid Unnatural Genetically Modified "Foods" to Take Back Our Food and Health

Going Against GMOs Call-to-Action Special Edition: The Fast-Growing Movement to Avoid Unnatural Genetically Modified "Foods" to Take Back Our Food and Health
by Melissa Diane Smith (Author)


The movement of consumers avoiding unnatural genetically modified organisms (GMOs) hidden in foods is growing so swiftly and with such force, it’s becoming a revolution. Yet Americans and Canadians have been kept in the dark for so long about genetically modified foods that many people still don’t know about them. Going Against GMOs is the definitive consumer’s guide to understanding genetically modified foods, the food issue of our time, from the unique perspective of a trailblazing nutritionist. This special edition of the book includes a call-to-action Preface. In this book, you’ll find: the top 10 reasons to stay away from GMOs; why you have to go against the status quo to avoid GMOs; the Eat GMO-Free Challenge & non-GMO optimal health guidelines; detailed instructions for...

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...

© 2014 BrightSurf.com