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No Gene Drive Ban

At its recent meeting, the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity decided against a ban on gene drives, Vox reports.

Gene drives, which enable the spread of certain mutations within a population, have been put forth as a possible means of combating diseases like malaria by eliminating disease vectors. Target Malaria researchers at Imperial College London, for instance, have developed one that aims to make female mosquitos unable to produce eggs, rendering them sterile.

But there have been concerns about the unintended consequences of gene drives. Because of that, the Convention on Biological Diversity was to consider a moratorium on testing gene drives at its recent meeting.

As Vox now reports, the group decided against such a moratorium. The group instead says gene drives should only be introduced after a case-by-case assessment of the risks, with risk management measures in place, and with informed consent.

Target Malaria's Delphine Thizy tells Vox that that describes the approach her group is already taking. Vox adds that critics of gene drives have also praised the decision, with the ETC Group and Friends of the Earth saying in a statement that the "decision puts controls on gene drives using simple common sense principles."