Public Release: 

New collection of articles explores the science, application, and regulation of GM insects

PLOS

The current issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases presents a new collection of articles on the use of genetically modified (GM) insects for controlling some of the most widespread infectious diseases. Articles from across the PLoS journals describe the technological advances these tools represent, the regulatory framework, and the societal dialogue that is necessary for their wide-scale application for disease control.

Diseases transmitted by insects form a huge burden on human and animal populations. Insect control has historically been one of many strategies for control of diseases such as dengue, malaria, and sleeping sickness. The debate on whether GM insects could be used for disease control began as soon as transgenic insects were first produced in the 1980's. Since then several experimental releases of GM insects have taken place. These trials show promise for limiting the spread of many vector-borne diseases (most notably Dengue fever). Articles in this collection showcase different aspects of this new technology including development, environmental impact, and regulation. Public discussion of the science and application of GM insects is necessary as new developments bring potential wide releases closer to a reality.

In an Editorial, Drs. Michael J Lehane (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) and Serap Aksoy (Yale School of Public Health) state that GM insects "may provide great promise for new means of controlling diseases with a devastating impact on people's lives. If so, then public acceptance is likely to be a key issue in their implementation." With many countries considering open field trials of GM insects, a Viewpoint by Guy Reeves et al. examines the regulation process of the first 3 countries that have had field trials of GM insects. Commentary by John Mumford discusses issues in risk assessment and highlights the need for both national and international regulations due to factors regarding each country's individual environmental risk to GM insects. From an industry perspective, Luke Alphey and Camilla Beech argue that "the agencies tasked to regulate GM insects have appropriately taken a cautious, thorough approach that allows progress towards realisation of the substantial benefits GM insect technology could potentially provide, while rigorously protecting the public and environment."

The articles in this collection highlight many different points of view surrounding the research into GM insects. As the recent history of GM insect development demonstrates, public discussion is necessary as scientists continue to research GM insect technologies to control some of the world's most devastating diseases.

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Press Contacts:

Professor M. J. Lehane
Vector Group,
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Liverpool L3 5QA
M.J.Lehane@liverpool.ac.uk

Dr. Serap Aksoy
Yale School of Public Health
Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases
60 College St., 812 LEPH
New Haven, CT 06520
Serap.Aksoy@yale.edu

Disclaimer

This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The release is provided by the article authors. Any opinions expressed in these releases or articles are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.

About PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (http://www.plosntds.org/) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the pathology, epidemiology, prevention, treatment, and control of the neglected tropical diseases, as well as public policy relevant to this group of diseases. All works published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases are open access, which means that everything is immediately and freely available subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License, and copyright is retained by the authors.

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