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


Walking on ice takes more than brains
Walking across an icy parking lot in winter--and remaining upright--takes intense concentration.

What does a GOP-led Congress mean for science -- and the public?
With Republicans now at the helm, Congress is gearing up to pursue a legislative agenda with potentially profound implications for science and how it informs policies on the environment, energy, health and agriculture.

Unexpected turn in diabetes research
Years of diabetes research carried out on mice whose DNA had been altered with a human growth hormone gene is now ripe for reinterpretation after a new study by researchers at KU Leuven confirms that the gene had an unintended effect on the mice's insulin production, a key variable in diabetes research.

T cell receptor ensures Treg functionality
T cells play an important role in the immune system, destroying pathogens and controlling the body's immune responses.

Diabetes debate: Triglycerides form in liver despite insulin resistance
Solving one of the great mysteries of type 2 diabetes, a team of Yale researchers found that triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood and liver, are produced in the liver independent of insulin action in the liver.

CNIO team has visualized the DNA double-strand break process for the first time
Scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), led by Guillermo Montoya, have developed a method for producing biological crystals that has allowed scientists to observe --for the first time-- DNA double chain breaks.

Obesity - like father, like son
The consumption of a sugary banquet before sex can have far-reaching consequences for a fruit fly and its offspring: it makes the young flies more prone to obesity.

Natural 'high' could avoid chronic marijuana use
Replenishing the supply of a molecule that normally activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain could relieve mood and anxiety disorders and enable some people to quit using marijuana, a Vanderbilt University study suggests.

Revealed: How bacteria drill into our cells and kill them
A team of scientists has revealed how certain harmful bacteria drill into our cells to kill them. Their study shows how bacterial 'nanodrills' assemble themselves on the outer surfaces of our cells, and includes the first movie of how they then punch holes in the cells' outer membranes.

A CNIO team discovers that a derivative of vitamin B3 prevents liver cancer in mice
Liver cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in the world, and with the worst prognosis; according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2012, 745,000 deaths were registered worldwide due to this cause, a figure only surpassed by lung cancer.
More Genetically Modified Current Events and Genetically Modified News Articles

Foreign Invaders: An Autoimmune Disease Journey through Monsanto's World of Genetically Modified (GM) Food

Foreign Invaders: An Autoimmune Disease Journey through Monsanto's World of Genetically Modified (GM) Food
by The Difference Press


"A must-read for anyone dealing with health issues or wanting to learn more about eating cleaner, avoiding toxins, and improving diet!"

Whether or not you have a chronic illness or you are caught up in the autoimmune epidemic, genetically modified foods are a health risk. After being diagnosed with autoimmune disease and being disappointed by doctor after doctor, Dara Jones set off on a mission to recover her health with real food. In the footsteps of Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth, Dara takes you on her journey through Monsanto’s world of GMO foods. After reading it, you’ll be empowered to take the reins of your own health and will never look at your grocery store shelves the same way.
In this personal account of her ongoing health recovery from...

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.

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 Foods (Introducing Issues with Opposing Viewpoints)

Genetically Modified Foods (Introducing Issues with Opposing Viewpoints)
by Lauri S Friedman (Author)


Explore the issue of genetically modified food with expert opinions in a pro/con format and encourage critical thinking. Includes colorful photos, charts, graphs, cartoons, fact boxes, questions, annotated bibliography and research sources.

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...

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 Food (Global Viewpoints)

Genetically Modified Food (Global Viewpoints)
by Greenhaven Press (Editor)


Global Viewpoints: Genetically Modified Food explores the following issues related to genetically modified food: attitudes toward genetically modified food around the world, the impact of genetically modified crops on agriculture, the impact of geneticall; This series provides readers with the information they need to think critically about the worldwide implications of global issues; each volume focuses on a controversial topic of worldwide importance and offers a panoramic view of opinions.; By illuminating the complexities and interrelations of the global community, this excellent resource helps students and other researchers enhance their global awareness. Each volume focuses on a controversial topic of worldwide importance and offers a pan

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...

Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone

Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone
by Mark L. Winston (Author)


With genetically modified crops we have entered uncharted territory--where visions of the triumph of biotechnology in agriculture vie with dire views of medical and environmental disaster. For two years Mark L. Winston traveled this fraught territory at home and abroad, listening to farmers, industry spokespeople, regulators, and researchers, canvassing high-security laboratories, environmentalist enclaves, and cyberspace, making a thorough survey of the facts, opinions, and practices deployed by opponents and proponents of transgenic crops. Through his sympathetic portrayal of the passions on all sides, Winston brings a clear, unbiased perspective to this bewildering landscape. Traveling with Winston, we see the excitement and curiosity that pervade laboratories developing...

Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food

Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food
by Nina V. Fedoroff (Author), Nancy Marie Brown (Author)


While European restaurants race to footnote menus, reassuring concerned gourmands that no genetically modified ingredients were used in the preparation of their food, starving populations around the world eagerly await the next harvest of scientifically improved crops. Mendel in the Kitchen provides a clear and balanced picture of this tangled, tricky (and very timely) topic.

Any farmer you talk to could tell you that we've been playing with the genetic makeup of our food for millennia, carefully coaxing nature to do our bidding. The practice officially dates back to Gregor Mendel -- who was not a renowned scientist, but a 19th century Augustinian monk. Mendel spent many hours toiling in his garden, testing and cultivating more than 28,000 pea plants, selectively determining very...

© 2015 BrightSurf.com