Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Could gene drive technology help control local weeds?

Posted on 9 January, 2020 by Ivan

No doubt one of the most controversial topics in our community is genetic engineering and gene manipulation. But what if it could potentially eradicate the invasive plants that cause irreversible damage to threatened species and agricultural assets across the Mount Alexander region, and the country? Connecting Country recently heard an interview with some leading researchers from CSIRO on ABC Radio National, that provides some interesting examples of controlling invasive plants and animals using new gene manipulation technologies. While we do not necessarily endorse genetic engineering, this technology is an interesting future option for minimising the impacts of invasive species on native bushland and farms.

Below is a link to the seven minute long interview with Andy Shepperd, Health and Biosecurity Research Director for Invasive Species at CSIRO, regarding his work in the area. A summary of the interview is also available from the ABC website.

The process of engineering DNA to help wipe out pests has sparked heated debate across the world. But as the research advances in mosquitoes and edges closer for rodents, Australian scientists want authorities to think about using gene drive technology on plant pests too. Their research suggests it could save the hundreds of threatened native plants and protect Australia’s crops.


  • Michael Lamond (Agronomist)
  • Luke Barrett (Research Scientist at CSIRO)
  • Andy Shepperd (Health and Biosecurity Research Director for Invasive Species at CSIRO)

Reporter: Stephanie Smail

To listen to the interview: click here

Gorse is an invasive species that has impacted over 100,000 hectares of land in Victoria (photo by Gorse Task Force)


2 responses to “Could gene drive technology help control local weeds?”

  1. David Griffiths says:

    No wonder the property in this picture has gorse. It shows a total lack of grazing management and removing this gorse will hasten it’s collapse. In almost every situation weeds are a symtom of bad management, rewarding landowners with funding will not encourage attitude change.

    • Ivan says:

      Thanks David, we agree that weeds are a symptom of land management and often are a result of overgrazing or removal of vegetation. Good points.

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