The controversial and unproved technology of gene editing, which has already been dubbed the “silver bullet” against malaria mosquitoes, can be effective for agriculture, Firstpost reports, referring to the report of the ETC group, a non-governmental organization that deals with new technologies.
The so-called “gene drives” artificially introduce changes in organisms from generation to generation.
This artificial evolution can be launched into the wild and lead to the local extinction of the target species for ten generations.
Health care innovators are ready to use this method to fight malaria, which kills about 0.5 million people annually, mostly in Africa.
Their opponents fear that a launched mechanism may cause an environmental explosion and even cause mutations in the nearby population.
However, the developers of pest (insects and rodents) controls are interested in it.
Critics are calling for a moratorium on the launch of gene drives into the wild, fearing that they might mutate, move on to other species, or spread far beyond the target areas.
And yet, in the absence of national or international rules, large vegetable farms or orchards could use this technology.
For example, in the US, producers of citrus fruits, cherries, peaches, and plums are struggling with a spotted wing fruit fly, changing its gene pool with the help of such technologies.
Instead of making plants resistant to pests, gene driver technology changes pests, making them harmless or programming their extinction.
For now, the tests are carried out in closed areas, in parallel, experiments are conducted on laboratory mice and dogs. Scientists from the University of California at San Diego have created two companies for the commercialization of gene drives.
The promotion of the new technology is already observed by the giants of the PPP industry Monsanto-Bayer, Syngenta, and Dow Dupont.
The development has already received funding of several hundred million dollars from a number of sponsors, including the US military, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Indian Tata trusts, and a Facebook-supported open charity project.