Bugs in the System? Issues in the Science and Regulation of by Michael Rodemeyer, Executive Director

By Michael Rodemeyer, Executive Director

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Extra info for Bugs in the System? Issues in the Science and Regulation of Genetically Modified Insects (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology)

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Scientists use two common types of vectors to insert foreign DNA into a genome: transposons and viruses. 1. Transposons “Transposable elements,” or “transposons” for short, are sections of DNA that may move to new locations within the genome. Transposons naturally exist in many organisms; in fact, whenever researchers have looked for transposable elements they have found them. Generally, transposons rearrange DNA, causing mutations by disrupting genes or by altering gene regulation. Some transposons can move between cells and may carry genes with them when they do so.

2000). Silkworms could be made to produce spider silk which, because of its strength, could be used in bulletproof vests or parachutes, or for medical purposes to produce artificial ligaments (Agrawal 1999, O’Neill 2000, Rennie 2000). Researchers have shown that they can insert genes that allow silkworms to produce pharmaceutical proteins (Tomita et al. 2003). Many new medications rely on recombinant protein production, but production facilities are limited even as demand for them grows (Pew 2003a, Wurm 2003).

It should be noted that “such an introduction would not be sanctioned nowadays because of the risk of attack by C. cactorum on non-target native opuntias [a genus of cacti] and because biological control of native plants that are pests is now considered to be unwise” according to Zimmerman et al. (2001). ...... 32 The debate over possible non-target effects of biological control agents is highly polarized (Follett and Duan 2000) and GM insects used as biological control agents could raise similar concerns.

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