Advanced Biotechnologies

Increasingly, genetic tools are being used to detect and solve pressing environmental, social, and health-related challenges. For example, environmental DNA (eDNA) is being employed to detect and monitor the presence of potentially invasive species in water bodies or other moist environments. Advances in gene editing technology are currently being explored as a means to eradicate and control invasive species. By altering the genomes of entire populations of wild organisms, genetic editing may improve capacities to prevent, eradicate and/or control populations of invasive species currently thought to be an indefinite problem. Interest in and support for gene drive technology is growing rapidly.

However, there is a need to carefully explore the potential ecological, socio-cultural, and political ramifications of using gene editing technology to address invasive species, including the possibility that gene-edited organisms may spread across ecological and jurisdictional borders. The NISC FY2020 Work Plan contains the following priority activity on the topic

  • Advanced Biotechnology Applications: Facilitate communication and information sharing across federal agencies on the use of advanced biotechnologies relevant to the management of invasive species.

Past Work:

On December 6, 2017, the Invasive Species Advisory Committee adopted a White Paper entitled, Advanced Biotechnology Tools for Invasive Species Management. The recommendations contained therein have been provided to NISC senior officials for consideration.

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