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Gene Drive talk: a new type of pest control - Wellington

Friday, July 28, 2017 - 19:30
Aro Hall

On 28th July Professor John Knight will be speaking at the Aro Hall @7.30pm about a genetic tool for pest eradication known as Gene Drive.  He will also be speaking at the Carterton Events Centre on the previous evening, July 27th @7.30pm.  

The gist of gene drive is adults that are fully fertile but only producing male offspring will drive this character through the entire population and ultimately cause it to crash.  Mice are considered a good species to try this on initially as, being small, they are hard to trap and reinvade pest free areas more easily than any other pest species. The effect of gene drive would be gradual.  Predators such as stoats and ferrets that depend on the diminishing target species for food will slowly reduce in numbers so prey switching to birds should be minimised.

Today we rely on poisons, traps, disease and shooting to reduce pest numbers.   There are always a number of bait shy, trap shy and disease resistant animals that survive and help the population recover, requiring the whole pest eradication process to start again.  With gene drive a species could be humanely taken to extinction. 

This is a complex subject, with many questions to be answered.  Prof. John Knight has been promoting gene drive for 20 years.  Professor Sir Alan Mark says gene drive “provides the greatest hope for turning back the relentless and debilitating tide of invasive mammalian pests in New Zealand”.  

To learn more about gene drive come along to hear Prof. John Knight speak. In contrast to relying on existing methods, gene drive offers a real possibility of NZ eventually becoming predator free.

Julia Stace
[email protected] 
Another Aro Valley Restoration Project Initiative

Wellington City