As scientists continue to genetically modify different species, they still cannot defeat nature.Researchers at the University of Kansas and Cornell University have showed the daunting challenges in changing the DNA of entire populations of species, as efforts to genetically alter natural populations to solve problems that plague human beings have failed.“A lot of times nature interferes with how humans would like the world to be,” Robert Unckless, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of molecular biosciences at Kansas, said in a statement. “Good examples of that are pests in crops and insect-vectored diseases, like the Zika virus or dengue or malaria.
”Discussions regarding modifying specific genes at the population level have been mostly theoretical because genetic edits pushed through a population also tended to have a “fitness cost,” which decrease the life span of altered individuals or render them sterile. Therefore, natural selection favors individuals lacking modified genes and purges a given genetic alteration within a population within a few generations. However, scientists gained a new edge with the creation of techniques using “selfish genes” that take advantage of natural elements to cheat genetic “Mendelian inheritance”—whereby offspring of modified and non-modified organisms are just as likely to inherit traits from either parent and overcome the fitness cost.