By Stephen S. Hall
Invasive species have been a problem in the Galápagos Islands since mariners first arrived there. Hundreds of introduced species of plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals live in the archipelago, displacing and in some cases preying on native species.
Eradicating invasive species can be a brutal job. On the island of Floreana, a plan to eliminate the rodents that raid the nests of native birds and reptiles calls for 400 tons of rat poison, requiring weeks of dislocation for pets, livestock and perhaps children.
Genetic manipulation—for example, tweaking sex inheritance in rodents to produce an all-male, and thus reproductively doomed, population—is being discussed as a safer alternative to poison and bullets. But what are the risks? And would it even work?
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