A new biotechnology advisory panel will figure out if and when it’s okay to release genetically modified organisms—like mosquitoes that no longer spread malaria—into the wild.

Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, charged the newly established Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee (NExTRAC) to tackle gene drives, a genetic engineering technology that alters how organisms pass down traits to future generations. That lets scientists produce things such as mosquitoes that can’t spread diseases.

First, researchers need to grapple with the possible consequences of permanently altering a species’ genes.

“The reason why it’s…

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