Context: Genetically modified mosquitoes have been used in outdoor but controlled conditions in India, Brazil, and Panama which showed promising drops in mosquito populations, around 90% during the trials.


• Mosquito control has taken centre stage today and the battle continues unrelenting with an array of tools – from mosquito nets to
insecticides and the use of symbionts like Wolbachia. But with insecticide resistance in mosquitoes rising to alarming proportions, it has become imperative that newer approaches to mosquito control gain prominence.

Gene-Drive Technology (GDT):

• GDT is a type of genetic engineering technique that modifies genes to alter the typical rules of Mendelian inheritance.
• Mendelian inheritance refers to certain patterns of how traits are passed from parents to offspring.
• A gene drive consists of three key components:
• The gene to be spread;
• The Cas9 enzyme to cut DNA; and
• CRISPR, a programmable DNA sequence that determines where the enzyme should cut. Outcomes:
• The genetic material that encodes for these three elements gets inserted into an animal’s DNA, in place of the naturally occurring gene.
• It increases the likelihood that a particular suite of genes will be passed onto the next generation, allowing the genes to rapidly spread through a population and override natural selection.

Applications of GDT:

• GDT can be used to exterminate insects such as mosquitoes that can spread malaria, dengue, and the Zika virus.
• Gene drives can also be used to control invasive species such as rodents

Concerns/Issues related to GDT:

• Long-term disruption in an ecosystem like a disturbance in the balance of food-web, potentially leading to unintended ecological consequences.
• Gene drive could get out of control and spread uncontrollably across international borders.
• It could potentially be used for bioterrorism or other malicious purposes.
• Deciding which species to target and the irreversible nature of GDT raises complex ethical and moral issues.

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