'Gene drive organisms' to combat invasive alien species? - Not ready for release.
Molecular biology has developed at an increasing speed in the last years and now offers the possibility to generate artificial gene drives (GD) to alter or eliminate wild populations. There are now concrete research projects seeking to utilise GD as a 'silver bullet' to combat invasive alien species, such as invasive rodents on islands. Here we introduce the technology and point out fundamental problems associated with the use of GD in laboratory and field. We consider the technology not to be fit for practical use at present. Because of the potential of GD to alter ecosystems and to eliminate species we recommend adjusting the legal framework and increasing biosafety research, especially on ecological consequences. In addition, ethical and societal questions need to be addressed before the application of GD technology.