Daisy Chain Drive for Pest Free NZ – Update

A 'community town hall type meeting' was held on September 17th, 2017 in the St David Lecture, University of Otago to discuss daisy drive technology. The meeting was chaired by Professor Gemmell who leads the Trojan female technique for NZ pest control.

Kevin Esvelt

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Kevin Esvelt

Kevin presented a talk which illustrated the technology of daisy chain drive in lay terms and invited the public to become involved and to share their suggestions, concerns, and criticisms. How should this technology be tested for safety and stability? Where should field tests take place and how should they be monitored?

This open and community-responsive development approach is planned to be the polar opposite of the traditional closed-door strategy used for engineered crops. He left the audience with the following points to consider as pros and cons.

Daisy drive: reasons in favour
- humane: no poisons required
- local and species-specific
- open, community-guided research
- already committed to removing invasive rodents
- success would ultimately eliminate engineered genes
- development doesn’t mean agreeing to deployment

 Daisy drive: reasons against
- mostly theoretical
- unclear how to test spread and stability in the lab
- hard to predict outcomes of ecological change
- genetic control may have international complications
- some object to genome engineering
- may conflict with Maori values or be unsuitable for other reasons

Kevin emphasized the high risks that  New Zealand might face from the international community who may impose non-tariff trade barriers or from individuals who might seek to illegally introduce genetically modified animals into their own country. He cited the example of the illegal introduction of rabbit calicivirus from Australia to New Zealand in 1997.

For further information, see the Responsive Science website for New Zealand predator-free.