For all the media attention genetically modified crops have received, the plants are relatively easy to control compared with what lies down the road--genetically modified insects (GMIs). Although most field trials of such insects are years away, experts say that the science has advanced rapidly and that regulators need to begin establishing rules now for assessing their potential effects on the environment and public health.
Modified insects are meant to combat a variety of pests and diseases that afflict humans, plants and beneficial insects such as the honeybee. Researchers expect the risks to be small, but they still have not been studied. "We're not talking about the [Flavr Savr] tomato," comments Thomas Scott, entomologist at the University of California at Davis. In some cases, "we're talking about human-blood-sucking, free-ranging, pathogen-transmitting organisms."
This article was originally published with the title Bugging for Guidance.