To Members of the European Parliament
I am deeply concerned about the lack of regulation on CRISPR-CAS9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene drives and the ecological, cultural and societal threats they pose.
Gene drives are a controversial new genetic manipulation technology that threatens the balance of our delicate ecosystems. It allows scientists to modify, delete or insert DNA into organisms that ensures the human made mutations are inherited to all its offspring. This mutation eventually spreads throughout the population with every generation of new offspring.
In theory, scientists argue that they could create populations of malaria-resistant parasites. In practice, without careful consideration, unleashing mutated species modified by gene drive technology could devastate entire ecosystems. The risks of these GMOs breeding with local wild or cultivated population creates biosecurity risks that are contrary to aims laid down by Convention on Biological Diversity. We’ve seen this before with invasive species killing off local wildlife. With gene drives, we could speed up that invasive process.
There is a severe lack of knowledge, data or understanding on the potential impact of gene drives on biological diversity. What’s worse is that big agricultural lobbyist and corporations have begun to appropriate and test this technology for commercial gain, whilst the US Defence Advanced Research have been considering to use it for bioweaponary. In the wrong hands, our biosecurity and food security would be under threat. That’s why we call on the European Parliament to call for an international moratorium on gene drives.
Over 160 civil society organizations from six continents have joined the call already: we don't want gene drives. We’ve seen plenty of rushed scientific experiments creating more ecological problems. Look to the GMO created superweeds in America immune to pesticides reeking havoc in local fields. Therefore, I call on the the European Parliament to promote an international moratorium on the release in the environment of organisms modified by gene drive technology.