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Scientists Warn ‘Supercharged’ GMOs Could be Used as Bio-weapons

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 Talon    716

The “gene drive” technology allows GMOs to spread rapidly in the wild. The fear is that these organisms could fall into the wrong hands or accidentally spark a catastrophe. The technology is being touted as a way to revolutionize medicine and agriculture, and supporters say it could, in theory, halt the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever, and eliminate crop pests and invasive species like rats and can toads.

But many scientists are warning that people with nefarious intentions or fumbling handlers could release the gene-drive technology from the lab and harm the environment and human health. It even has the potential to be used by terrorists as a bio-weapon directed against people or livestock because the genes – which are capable of spreading like a virus – will be cheap and easy to produce.

“Just as gene drives can make mosquitoes unfit for hosting and spreading the malaria parasite, they could conceivably be designed with gene drives carrying cargo for delivering lethal bacterial toxins to humans,” said David Gurwitz, a geneticist at Tel Aviv University in Israel.



A group of senior geneticists are calling on the international community to safeguard researchers who want to generate drives by putting security measures in place at laboratories to prevent the genes from escaping accidentally and causingwidespread GMO contamination.



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