The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee has published its report on GM insects which recommends that field trials begin. The Committee has been investigating the use of GM insect technologies to fight infectious disease and to control agricultural pests as the technology now exists to render insects unable to transmit diseases, and to reduce insect populations to minimise their threat to animals and crops.
These comments accompanied a briefing.
All our previous output on this subject can be seen here.
The SMC also produced Factsheets on gene drive and genome editing.
Prof. Steve Lindsay, Professor of Disease Ecology, Durham University, said:
“It absolutely vital that research on GM insects should be encouraged and developed. I am an expert on the control of mosquito-transmitted diseases and this technology could help reduce dramatically the number of cases of malaria and dengue around the world. We desperately need new tools for the control of these diseases. In the future, this technology could be a game changer.”
Camilla Beech, Head of Regulation, Oxitec, said:
“We welcome the House of Lords report on GM insects and the conclusions of the committee. As the only company involved in the GM insect space, we recognise the potential for this science to contribute to global health and food security as part of an integrated solution. We agree that this potential can only be realised with a functioning regulatory system that considers risk and benefit, and an informed public.
“The recommendation that the UK government support such a trial and contribute to the dialogue is a potent symbol of the UK’s leadership in this field. We are keen to help countries worldwide evaluate this technology for potential use, including in the EU, and Oxitec would be happy to work with the UK Government to achieve these goals.
“Regarding the UK, if we have a solution that makes sense for the evaluation proposed by the UK Government, we would like to participate in UK trials.”
‘Genetically Modified Insects’ by the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, published on Thursday 17 December.
Prof. Steve Lindsay has advised scientists on designing trials for the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in relation to the prevention of dengue and malaria. He has also advised the World Health Organisation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on new tools for vector control. He does not receive any funding in relation to genetically modified insects.
Camilla Beech: Employee of Oxitec Ltd, and provided evidence to the House of Lords GM insect inquiry.