News Release

CCA Appoints Expert Panel on Gene-edited Organisms for Pest Control

Advances in gene editing have made the process of changing an organism’s genome more efficient, opening up a range of potential applications, including pest control. At the request of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has formed an expert panel to examine the scientific, bioethical, and regulatory challenges associated with the use of gene-edited organisms and technologies for pest control. Robert Slater, C.M., Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, will serve as Chair of the Expert Panel.

“With gene editing tools, we now have the potential to control insect-borne disease or invasive species by suppressing or manipulating different insect populations,” said Dr. Slater. “But there are unanswered questions about the implications of using these tools for these purposes and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the panel to explore them.”

As Chair, Dr. Slater will lead a multidisciplinary group with expertise in molecular biology and genetics, ecology and disease vectors, bioethics, agriculture, science and risk communication, and regulation and governance. The Panel will answer the following question:

What are the scientific, bioethical, and regulatory challenges regarding the use of gene-edited organisms and technologies (e.g., CRISPR/Cas9) for pest control?

“Understanding the challenges and potential outcomes of these technologies for pest control is critical to informing debate and discussion about their use and I can’t think of a better group of people to take on this question,” said Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, President and CEO of the CCA. 

More information can be found here.
The Expert Panel on Gene-edited Organisms for Pest Control:

  • Robert Slater, C.M. (Chair) Adjunct Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University
  • Mark Belmonte, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Gwendolyn Blue, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calgary
  • Michael Bonsall, Professor, Mathematical Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
  • Claudia Isabel Emerson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Founding Director, Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation, McMaster University
  • Natalie Kofler, Founder, Editing Nature; Senior Advisor and Curriculum Lead, Scientific Citizenship Initiative, Harvard Medical School
  • Jennifer Kuzma, Distinguished Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, and Co-Director, Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University
  • Brian Leung, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, McGill University; Director, McGill-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Ben Matthews, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
  • Stéphane McLachlan, Professor, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Manitoba
  • J. David Miller, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Chemistry, Carleton University
  • Michael Presley, Co-Director, Career Development for Regulatory Professionals Program, Carleton University; Honorary Senior Fellow, Graduate Studies in International and Public Affairs, University of Ottawa
  • David Secko, Chair and Professor, Department of Journalism, Concordia University
  • Sandy M. Smith, Professor, Institute of Forestry and Conservation, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto