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CRISPR Gene Drive: Ecosystem Conservation, or Total Annihilation?

As if the genetically modified organisms or GMOs are not enough, a new technology is driving the gods of genetic manipulations mad – Gene Drive. Gene drive is being sold as the best way to combat the spread of invasive species, e.g. eliminate malaria and dengue carrying mosquitoes, and the proliferating possums in New Zealand.

Gene drive is basically accomplished by favoring certain genetic features of a particular species that would enable the next generation to genetically behave in a certain way, say not carry pathogens. That’s neat and dandy until one realizes that it can also be made to carry more pathogens instead.

Consider the successful development of an insecticide resistant mosquitos released in the different regions of Africa.

The largest ever genetic study of mosquitoes reveals the movement of insecticide resistance between different regions of Africa and finds several rapidly evolving insecticide resistance genes. Reported today (29 November) in Nature, this genetic resource will be used to develop new tools for monitoring resistance and managing insecticide use, and for designing novel control methods.

Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes and rising resistance to insecticides is hampering efforts to control the disease. The study by researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators also discovered that wild mosquitoes collected in Africa were genetically far more diverse than had been thought. This helps to explain how mosquitoes evolve insecticide resistance so quickly.

This was sold earlier through the research and development of pest resistant corn and rice. The latter should have been more preferable than the former. Under the control of madmen, science has become a tool for our own destruction.

Behind this gene drive to “eliminate bad species in the wild” is DARPA, a US advanced military research body. This means that the object of the research is multifaceted, and they are not always benevolent as in the case with previous genetic research involving engineered and patented viruses.

This would not have been made public until the ETC Group directed by Silvia Ribeiro, requested for more information from various universities involved in the research through the Freedom of Information Act.

Interestingly, even those who were involved in the early part of the research is ringing the alarm bells of its possible “uncontrollable” consequences.

Although Professor Esvelt was among the scientists who first described how gene drive could be accomplished by making CRISPR genome editing heritable, in the new article the authors say that the original suggestion that self-propagating gene drive systems might be suitable for conservation “was a mistake.”

Professor Gemmell believes there is still “huge merit” in using genetic technologies for conservation work. However, he says that standard self-propagating versions “may be uncontrollable” and therefore unsuited to conservation.

“The bottom line is that making a standard, self-propagating CRISPR-based gene drive system is likely equivalent to creating a new, highly invasive species – both will likely spread to any ecosystem in which they are viable, possibly causing ecological change.”

Any country which will implement this type of technology must understand that there is no ecological borderline by which such measure will be limited in its effects and long-term consequence. Once it is released to the wild, it can spread all over the planet and there would be no turning back.

That’s why a convention to limit the use of environmental modifications was earlier agreed upon by the largest economies to explicitly forbid the use of HAARP and chemtrails to avoid unintended consequences.

However, the UN is just a diplomatic body and has no power over those countries which are intentionally violating the ENMOD treaty. If we put an enforcing power to the UN, then it would also result to it being a full pledged One World Government, if it’s not behaving like one already.

It is therefore incumbent upon the New Zealanders to really look at the issue objectively.

Introducing such a system “without the permission of every other country harbouring the target species would be highly irresponsible,” they say. “It would be a profound tragedy if New Zealanders – or anyone else – inadvertently caused an international incident and the consequent loss of public confidence in scientists and governance prevented us from realizing other benefits of biotechnology.”

“New Zealand’s ambitious goal to eradicate mammalian pests is already generating global interest, in part because there are strong lobbying groups advocating for and against the use of gene editing in a conservation framework,” Professor Gemmell says. “The New Zealand initiative provides an obvious focal point for this emerging debate. But the topic has global relevance and context because gene drives have been proposed for use in other locations where mammalian invaders are a conservation issue. This study calls for an open discussion about technologies considered for the New Zealand context that could readily have global ramifications.”

Besides, the use of poison to eliminate the further spread of possums is already a highly questionable operation.

The development of genetic extinction technologies raises the bar of Eugenics and this is not something we can ignore for so long.

The way we see it, it’s their answer to the spread of easily accessible protocols to combat the spread of cancer and HIV-AIDS, a direct result of an early Eugenics research involving the World Health Organization itself.

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