Gene drives: Navigating perils of engineered eradication, with Christoph Then

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Imagine a world without natural enemies like parasites or deadly pathogens. Where crops grow unfettered by rodent and insect pests. Advances in genetic engineering now hold the possibility to alter genomes at the population level, but is it too good to be true? A critical review in the September 2020 issue of IEAM delves into environmental risk assessments for controversial gene drives in the European Union. Lead author Christoph Then talks with us about the challenges facing risk assessors of gene drives and a potential cut-off criteria presented in the study. Access the article in the September 2020 issue of IEAM.

Listen on iTunes or YouTube.

About the Guest

Christoph Then

Christoph Then studied veterinary medicine (Munich, Germany) and has worked for 30 years on issues in the field of biotechnology from the perspective of the protection goals of health and environment. Since 2008, Then has served as Executive Director of Testbiotech, an industry-independent expert group. Relevant issues are new methods of genetic engineering such as genome editing and EU authorizations of genetically engineered plants. Then was a member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (ATHEG) on Synthetic Biology from 2015-2017 and on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms in 2020 within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Then’s publications can be found at

Articles Referenced in this Podcast

Then C, Kawall K, Valenzuela N. 2020. Spatiotemporal Controllability and Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Gene Drive Organisms from the Perspective of European Union Genetically Modified Organism Regulation. Integr Environ Assess Manag 16: 555-568. doi:10.1002/ieam.4278



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