US military investment in gene drives – In the News

News broke last night that the US military’s science research agency has funded research into gene drives, including to a group that includes New Zealanders.

Documents released to media from a lobby group suggest the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has become the world’s largest funder of gene drive research, putting $100m into the technology.

Multinational group GBIRd (Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents) has received some of those funds according to the documents: the group includes New Zealand’s Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

University of Auckland conservation biologist Dr James Russell told the NZ Herald his research was being sized up for potential funding through the DARPA investment and NZ offshore islands had been looked at as potential field sites for future trials.

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said there would be “serious questions around the risks to New Zealand’s GE Free reputation from being associated with any field trials of gene technology”.

Local media coverage of the story included:

NZ Herald: What happened when one expert killer was visited by the US military’s science agency
Newstalk ZB: US military investing millions in NZ pest control
NZ Herald: Conservation minister opposes GM-rodent plan
NZ Herald: What is gene drive technology and what does it mean for New Zealand?
TVNZNZ playing key role in US military’s research into controlling rats