GM Insects: ISIS Report

March 15, 2001

The first genetically modified (GM) insects are due for release in the United States this summer. Prof. Joe Cummins takes us through the basic genetics and the hazards involved.

The first GM insects to be released are modified with a marker to allow them to be easily traced. Later, female killing traits will be introduced in GM insects in the hopes that insect pest can be eradicated by mating with GM insects. The GM insects to be released are modified using mobile genetic elements called transposons. Such mobile genetic elements are being promoted as a means of controlling weeds as well as insect pests.

However, the dangers of using mobile genetic elements to eradicate pests should be recognized and discussed, and not left to the fatuous embellishments of those profiting from the technology. The piggyBac transposon is used in genetic egineering of pest insects because it can be transferred to a number of insect pests from moths and flies to mosquitoes. Gene transfer. . .




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