Genetically modified insects subject of new Lords inquiry

20 July 2015

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the possible uses of GM insect technologies, aiming to shed light on these and other areas.

Could genetically modified (GM) insects be used to control the spread of human disease? Would farmers benefit if insects were modified in order to reduce crop pests? What are the safety and ethical concerns over the release of genetically modified insects? How should this emerging technology be regulated?

The development of GM insects is a growing area of scientific research, looking to explore, among other things, the potential benefits to public health and agriculture. Following their inquiry the Committee will publish a report including recommendations to the Government which could help shape this developing area.

The Committee is seeking written submissions from as wide an audience as possible, by 18 September 2015.


Questions which the inquiry aims to cover include: 

  • Which human diseases, across the world, could be addressed through GM insect technology?
  • What are the possible livestock and agricultural crop applications of GM insects across the world? Are there any potential applications of relevance to UK agriculture?
  • Do the current EU and UK genetically modified organisms (GMOs) regulatory frameworks work for GM Insects?
  • How can the gap between regulatory approaches and public concerns over GMOs be addressed?

Chairman's comment

Chair of the Committee, Lord Selborne, said:

"The development of GM insects is an emerging area of bioscience that presents a host of questions as well as opportunities. Concerns about lasting effects on our ecosystems and rapid spread must be considered alongside the potential opportunities for disease control and agricultural pest management.

The policy implications of developing GM insect technologies include how the UK actively funds research, how the current regulations for genetically modified organisms can be applied, and what the potential economic benefits might be from this industry.

What we hope to do with this inquiry is to probe some of these areas, and establish a clearer picture for the scientific community as well as the public. I welcome the contribution of written evidence in order that we can carry out the most thorough and informative inquiry possible."


The committee starts taking oral evidence on the inquiry in October.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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