The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is reportedly debating the introduction of a moratorium on gene research prompted by new US genetic technologies.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing $100 million in genetic extinction technologies that could wipe out entire populations of carriers of viral infections, such as malarial mosquitoes or invasive rodents, The Guardian reported, citing emails released under freedom of information rules.
According to the newspaper, the DARPA may aggravate tensions ahead of a UN expert committee meeting in Montreal on Tuesday, as there are fears that these technologies may lead to dangerous environmental consequences, as well as threaten peace and food security.
“You may be able to remove viruses or the entire mosquito population, but that may also have downstream ecological effects on species that depend on them… My main worry is that we do something irreversible to the environment, despite our good intentions, before we fully appreciate the way that this technology will work,” a UN expert told the media outlet.
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Some countries are reportedly concerned about the fact that because this technology comes from DARPA as it could potentially be used for military purposes.
The issue of imposing a moratorium on gene research next year is reportedly under debate at the moment within the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The US seems to be coming to grips with the challenges of bioengineering, with the country’s Environmental Protection Agency recent approval of a new method pioneered by biotech company MosquitoMate to produce special tiger mosquitoes, potentially killing other wild species carrying deadly viruses.
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This and similar experiments took place across the country after the US had been considering using lab-grown mosquitoes to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases for several years. Last year a similar project in Florida was approved by the federal government last year, but rejected by local voters because of potential effects it could have on the local environment.