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Can GMOs restore habitats, save endangered species?

| | August 26, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

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To some, GMOs are the antithesis of green. Greenpeace calls them “genetic pollution,” warning on its website that “GMOs should not be released into the environment since there is not an adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health.”

But scientists — still a minority — are beginning to wonder if genetic engineering can be used to help organisms adapt to change and actually increase the biodiversity of the planet.

“I think it really isn’t on the radar screen of the conservation community at all,” says Kent Redford, former lead scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and now head of Archipelago Consulting. Redford organized one of the first conferences, in Cambridge, England, in 2013, to consider the gnarly intersection of genetic engineering, nature and conservation.

Related article:  In wake of Owen Paterson rebuke of anti-GMO 'Green Blob', advocates and opponents play tug-of-war over Africa

In the scientific journal Nature, a half dozen scientists from several universities suggested that “facilitated adaptation” might be used in “rescuing a target population or species by endowing it with adaptive alleles, or gene variants, using genetic engineering.”

Think about it: Producing a white pine immune to blister rust or North American ash trees impervious to emerald ash borer. Engineering corals to thrive in more acidic waters. Inoculating frogs with a gene to protect against chytrid fungus. Creating a genetic based pesticide that kills only a single invasive species.

Read full, original post: In the race to save species, GMOs are coming to nature

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