Sydney Morning Herald: Genetic Modification Must Be in Our Toolkit to Save Endangered Island Species

Island Conservation CEO, Karen Poiani, shares her thoughts on the need for innovation and use of gene drives in conservation.

Read the original article at the Sydney Morning Herald

The global decline of species is a serious concern, but on islands, loss of biodiversity is a result of invasive species. Invasive species, introduced to islands over the centuries, now threaten wildlife through predation, the introduction of diseases, and changes in the ecosystem.

The methods that we have available today to remove invasive species and restore islands have been proven to help prevent extinctions of island wildlife, but these also have limitations. Overall these methods can only benefit approximately 15% of the islands where invasive species threaten native wildlife.

Invasive species threaten the Endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand. Credit: Michael Dawes

To continue saving species, we need new solutions including genetic modification. Gene drives are one of the many possible ways we can help prevent extinctions—introducing a genetically modified rodent with a gene that only produces male offspring can move through the population until they can no longer reproduce.

As with all new technologies, genetic modification needs to be approached with caution to ensure the highest standards of ethics are upheld and to protect against any potential risks. In order to do this, more research needs to be conducted to better understand both the benefits and risks the technology could pose.

Read the original article here: Sydney Morning Herald
Featured photo: A Lord Howe Woodhen walking down a path. Credit:
Patrick Kavanagh

About Karen Poiani

Karen Poiani, PhD was appointed as Island Conservation’s CEO in July, 2016. Karen came to IC with 25 years of experience in conservation organization management, fundraising, board engagement, international and local partnership development, and conservation science research.

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