Versatile molecular tools for creating driving transgenes and other invasive genetic factors present regulatory, ethical, and environmental challenges that should be addressed to ensure their safe use. In this article, we discuss driving transgenes and invasive genetic factors that can potentially spread after their introduction into a small proportion of individuals in a population. The potential of invasive genetic factors to increase their number in natural populations presents challenges that require additional safety measures not provided by previous recommendations regarding accidental release of arthropods. In addition to providing physical containment, invasive genetic factors require greater attention to strain management, including their distribution and identity confirmation. In this study, we focus on insects containing such factors with recommendations for investigators who are creating them, institutional biosafety committees charged with ensuring safety, funding agencies providing support, those managing insectaries handling these materials who are responsible for containment, and other persons who will be receiving insects-transgenic or not-from these facilities. We give specific examples of efforts to modify mosquitoes for mosquito-borne disease control, but similar considerations are relevant to other arthropods that are important to human health, the environment, and agriculture.
Keywords: biosafety; gene drive; mosquitoes; transgenic organism.