A Native Hawaiian throws a spear to mark the opening of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.
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Scientific techniques that can wipe out invasive species or alter mosquitoes' ability to carry disease are pushing ahead, raising concerns about the ethics of permanently changing the natural world, experts say.Perhaps the most controversial type of research is known as a "gene drive," which ensures that a certain trait is passed down from parent to offspring. It eventually leads to genetic changes throughout the entire species.The Oxitec mosquito developed by Intrexon is not technically a "gene drive," but cuts down on the population of mosquitoes by introducing altered males whose offspring cannot survive.Proponents of gene drive technology say it eliminates the need for polluting pesticides, and could offer a more effective remedy against invasive species than any tool on hand.Kevin Esvelt, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is among the first scientists to propose using gene-editing, or CRISPR technology, to alter species.According to Floyd Reed, a scientist at the University of Hawaii who is working on a project to alter Culex mosquitoes which transmit avian malaria to birds, gene drive technologies are incredibly diverse.
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