Gene-edited Organisms for Pest Control


Advances in gene editing tools and technologies have made the process of changing an organism’s genome more efficient, opening up a range of potential applications. One such application is in pest control. By editing genomes of organisms, and introducing them to wild populations, it’s now possible to control insect-borne disease and invasive species, or reverse insecticide resistance in pests. But the full implications of using these methods remains uncertain.

In Canada, pest control products are regulated under the Pest Control Products Act and requirements for approval are well established. However, the potential to use gene-edited organisms (e.g., mosquito vectors, agricultural pests) in pest control applications present unique scientific, ethical, and regulatory challenges and considerations.

A comprehensive understanding of current and future applications, and the novel risks associated with these technologies for pest control, could provide insights about their safety and potential benefits, and help to inform the development of relevant policy and regulation.

The sponsor:

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency

The 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?