Gene drives are molecular mechanisms that promote the efficient spread and inheritance of selected traits into populations. This emerging technology has sparked both enthusiasm and deep concerns. While gene drives can be used to control agricultural pests and invasive species, rescue endangered species or eradicate disease vectors, they may lead to undesired side effects and alter ecosystems in unpredictable and irreversible ways.
Objectives of the workshop
The aim of the workshop is to discuss plausible environmental risks of gene drive modified insects with stakeholders and EU Member States. The input of participants will support EFSA’s expert Working Group on the environmental risk assessment of gene drive modified organisms. This Working Group has been mandated to assess the adequacy of existing risk assessment guidelines for gene drive modified insects.
Problem formulation will be used to: formally devise plausible pathways to harm that describe how the deployment of gene drive modified insects could be harmful; formulate risk hypotheses about the likelihood and severity of such events; and identify the information that will be useful to test these risk hypotheses.
Structure of the workshop
The programme will include presentations and discussion groups that will run a problem formulation focusing on two case studies: disease-transferring mosquitoes and an agricultural pest. The outcome of the discussion groups will be presented and discussed in a final plenary session to formulate the conclusions of the workshop.
Who should attend?
Through the workshop EFSA aims to engage with stakeholders and EU Member States to discuss plausible environmental risks of gene drive modified insects. Attendance is limited to a maximum of 60 participants, including speakers and other experts already identified by EFSA. Participation will be limited to one representative per organisation. A further selection will ensure enough representation of the various fields of expertise, as well as representation of stakeholder groups and geographical balance.