New Zealand mulls using gene drive to eliminate country’s largest ecological threat: Weasel-like stoat

| | April 10, 2017
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The stoat—a small, adorable, weasel-like mammal—is the one of the largest ecological threats in New Zealand. It’s a fierce invader with few predators that dines freely on the country’s endangered birds. The stoat did not come to New Zealand via any unfortunate accident. It was brought there on purpose, introduced in the 19th century to control another pest introduced by settlers, the rabbit. It was, in essence, a Russian nesting doll of ecological disasters—one bad decision supplanting yet another.

Now this tiny island nation in the Southern Pacific is mulling a radical pest control strategy: Using a technique known as gene drive to engineer invasive species so that they breed themselves out of existence.

Gene drives could be a revolutionary technological tool, capable of allowing scientists to engineer problematic pests like mosquitoes or rodents out of an environment. But first, there is an awful lot to figure out. And none of it is quite as simple as releasing a bunch of stoats to eat the rabbits.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: New Zealand Could Use Gene Editing to Kill Off Its Cutest Predator

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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