New collection of articles explores the science, application, and regulation of GM insects

The current issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases presents a new collection of articles on the use of genetically modified (GM) insects for controlling some of the most widespread infectious diseases. Articles from across the PLoS journals describe the technological advances these tools represent, the regulatory framework, and the societal dialogue that is necessary for their wide-scale application for disease control.

Diseases transmitted by insects form a huge burden on human and . has historically been one of many strategies for control of diseases such as dengue, malaria, and . The debate on whether GM insects could be used for disease control began as soon as transgenic insects were first produced in the 1980's. Since then several experimental releases of GM insects have taken place. These trials show promise for limiting the spread of many vector-borne diseases (most notably ). Articles in this collection showcase different aspects of this new technology including development, environmental impact, and regulation. Public discussion of the science and application of GM insects is necessary as new developments bring potential wide releases closer to a reality.

In an Editorial, Drs. Michael J Lehane (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) and Serap Aksoy (Yale School of Public Health) state that GM insects "may provide great promise for new means of controlling diseases with a devastating impact on people's lives. If so, then is likely to be a key issue in their implementation." With many countries considering open field trials of GM insects, a Viewpoint by Guy Reeves et al. examines the regulation process of the first 3 countries that have had field trials of GM insects. Commentary by John Mumford discusses issues in risk assessment and highlights the need for both national and international regulations due to factors regarding each country's individual environmental risk to GM insects. From an industry perspective, Luke Alphey and Camilla Beech argue that "the agencies tasked to regulate GM insects have appropriately taken a cautious, thorough approach that allows progress towards realisation of the substantial benefits GM insect technology could potentially provide, while rigorously protecting the public and environment."

The articles in this collection highlight many different points of view surrounding the research into GM insects. As the recent history of GM insect development demonstrates, public discussion is necessary as scientists continue to research GM insect technologies to control some of the world's most devastating diseases.

More information: www.plosntds.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mali farmers don't want GM crops

Jan 31, 2006

Mali farmers say they don't want trials of genetically modified crops to begin in their nation -- the fourth poorest country in the world.

What farmers think about GM crops

Feb 24, 2008

Farmers are upbeat about genetically modified crops, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

10% more GM crops in the world in 2010: study

Feb 22, 2011

The amount of the world's farmland given over to genetically modified (GM) crops grew 10% last year, with the United States remaining the biggest zone for the altered produce, according to a study released ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

Apr 20, 2014

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

User comments