Technology to destroy entire species. UN fears, DARPA invests
The U.S. military agency has invested $100 million in technology that can destroy entire species of. The method was originally developed to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but can also be applied to other species.
DARPA – Agency for Advanced ProjectóIn Research in the Defense Area working for the government of the State ofóin the United has become the largest funder of lethal technology. This is a relatively new technique. It is called a gene drive (ang. gene driver) and involves the introduction of specific traits into a given population, whichóre are then passed on to offspring.
The gene-editing technique was applied to this methodóIn CRISPR-Cas9. Desired substitutions are introduced into the genome of an individual of a selected species, które are inherited by all descendants of theów a genetically altered individual. In this wayób A specific trait is spread throughout the population.
Currently, applications of propulsionóin gene drive are focused on mosquitoes. Mosquitoes transmit malaria, whichóra every year kills between one million and three millionóin osób. In a field study, scientists have released millions of infertile males in Californiaóin the mosquitoów. A similar project was also developed in Brazil. Mosquitoes will lead normal lives like their healthy counterparts, but as a result of spólication with females, from the resultingób eggs, nothing hatches. The result is expected to be a marked decline in the mosquito populationóin the areas covered by próbą.
The pioneer of the technology is Imperial College London professor Andrei Crisanti, whoóry confirmed that it has received a $2.5 million contract from DARPAóIn on the work of developing propulsionóin gen.
The next species thatóry found on the target of the new technology are rats, u whichórych Scottish scientists also manipulate genes responsible for fertility. They claim it is a humane wayób to eliminate unwanted populations, such as rats, które usually killed by poison and traps.
The technology is hugely controversial. Such genetically modified organisms could have an irreversible impact on the ecosystem. The UN is concerned about the loss of control over the technology and its military use and is considering imposing a moratorium on its developmentój. Not everyone agrees with this.
– The moratorium would make it impossible to conduct the research, które we need so that we can understand whether and how toób can be used for the benefit of our society – said Bruce Whitelaw of the University of Edinburgh. – We need to have knowledge of how gene drive can be effectively controlled – added in an interview with Reuters. Whitelaw and colleagues want to develop a gene drive thatóry will cease to function after it is passed on to a certain, defined number of descendantsów.
In this wayób can control the population or get rid of many species altogetherów insectów and animals, whichóre will be recognized as a pest. Unfortunately, we do not know what the possible environmental impact will be. Catastrophe could occur if control of an experiment is lost. UN concerns are legitimate, but will the moratorium stop scientists fromów from working on the development of the technology, it is a completely different matter.
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