Stop gene drive mice

Stop gene drive mice

Under proposed changes to our gene technology legislation, Australia could be the first country in the world to allow the environmental release of a dangerous new genetic extinction technology called gene drives.

CSIRO and the University of Adelaide scientists have already begun US military funded research to develop a gene drive mouse with the aim of driving the species to extinction in islands in Western Australia. And these same CSIRO scientists are advising the Government on how this research should be regulated!

The release of gene drives could drive species to extinction globally - with devastating ecological consequences in regions where ...

Under proposed changes to our gene technology legislation, Australia could be the first country in the world to allow the environmental release of a dangerous new genetic extinction technology called gene drives.

CSIRO and the University of Adelaide scientists have already begun US military funded research to develop a gene drive mouse with the aim of driving the species to extinction in islands in Western Australia. And these same CSIRO scientists are advising the Government on how this research should be regulated!

The release of gene drives could drive species to extinction globally - with devastating ecological consequences in regions where those species naturally occur. And the fact that this research is being funded by the US military suggests that they intend to weaponise it. Even gene drive proponents have now admitted that the gene drives are too risky to be released into the environment.

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Take action: Oppose these proposed changes

Please draft a short submission to the Department of Health opposing the proposed weakening of our gene technology legislation. This would allow the environmental release of gene drives and the deregulation of new genetic modification (GM) techniques such as CRISPR.

 

View the Department of Health discussion paper.

 

Read our briefing on CSIRO’s gene drive research.

 

Submissions close on Thu 24th May.

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Compose your email

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Here are some points you could make in your submission:

  • Leading proponents of gene drives have now said that they are too risky to release in the wild, because of their serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security. There should be a moratorium on the environmental release of gene drives.
  • I oppose the proposed deregulation of new GM techniques such as CRISPR in animals, plants and microbes. These techniques are fundamentally different to natural breeding and do not have a history of safe use. Products derived from new GM techniques should therefore be regulated in the same way as those created using older GM techniques and require a comprehensive case-by-case risk assessment.
  • There should be a moratorium on human germline gene therapy – in other words genetically modifying people - until there can be a broad societal discussion on what (if any) applications of this technology would be socially acceptable.
  • ‘Removing barriers to trade’ should never be used as a justification for accepting lower levels of safety assessment than exist in Australia or allowing unapproved GMOs in our food. Reducing or removing regulations is actually more likely to create barriers to trade for Australian exporters.
  • I support the rights of states and territories to protect their markets by maintaining their GM crop moratorium legislation.
  • To preserve important checks and balances, all proposed changes to the Gene Technology Act and Regulations should undergo full consideration by appropriate Ministers and state and territory parliaments. 
  • Regulations designed to prevent scientists with conflicts of interest from offering biased advice need to be enforceable. 
  • DIY ‘biohacking’ kits are now available to buy online, making a mockery of the Government’s claim that such experiments must be undertaken “within a certified containment facility”. Urgent enforcement action is needed to ensure that genetic experiments are not going on without adequate safety mechanisms in place.