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Gene drives: benefits, risks, and possible applications


Deplazes-Zemp, Anna; Grossniklaus, Ueli; Lefort, François; Müller, Pie; Romeis, Jörg; Rüegsegger, Adrian; Schoenenberger, Nicola; Spehn, Eva (2020). Gene drives: benefits, risks, and possible applications. Swiss Academies. Factsheets, 15(4):1-7.

Abstract

Gene drives are genetic elements in sexually reproducing organisms that skew the pattern of inheritance of a given characteristic. They can be used to spread a characteristic that can alter or even reduce the numbers of individuals in wild populations of a certain species. As they spread by being inherited from one generation to the next, they could persist in populations long-term. The spreading property of gene drives could be a source of great potential in areas as diverse as the control of disease vectors, invasive species, agricultural pests and predators of endangered species. However, the same property may make containment challenging and therefore may also pose novel envi- ronmental risks. The evaluation, distribution of risks and benefits and the fact that gene drives may be seen as a particularly profound interference with nature further raises novel ethical considerations.

Abstract

Gene drives are genetic elements in sexually reproducing organisms that skew the pattern of inheritance of a given characteristic. They can be used to spread a characteristic that can alter or even reduce the numbers of individuals in wild populations of a certain species. As they spread by being inherited from one generation to the next, they could persist in populations long-term. The spreading property of gene drives could be a source of great potential in areas as diverse as the control of disease vectors, invasive species, agricultural pests and predators of endangered species. However, the same property may make containment challenging and therefore may also pose novel envi- ronmental risks. The evaluation, distribution of risks and benefits and the fact that gene drives may be seen as a particularly profound interference with nature further raises novel ethical considerations.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:15 Jan 2021 15:55
Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 15:55
Publisher:Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3742771
Official URL:https://scnat.ch/en/uuid/i/045a3073-e301-5215-a0a0-3ca3d5b85a78-Gene_drives%3A_benefits%2C_risks%2C_and_possible_applications

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