Science, Ethics, and Engagement in the Governance of Gene Drives: It Takes a Village

Friday, February 17, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 203 (Hynes Convention Center)
It is no secret that our capability to edit, modify, engineer, and drive genetic changes in plants and animals far outpaces the capability of state, federal, or international regulatory systems to govern these new techniques. Yet ongoing and emerging threats to human health and the environment can create pressure to consider the use of these new gene drive technologies to introduce genetically-engineered traits into wild populations before their benefits and harms are assessed. Scientists have already developed a gene drive that would cause the offspring of mosquito populations to die before reaching maturity. How else could a gene drive be employed?  Should gene drives be developed? Who gets to decide what is developed and how it might be used? When and how should members of the public be engaged in research, risk assessment, and policy decisions? This session builds on a 2016 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that reviews the science, ethics, and governance of gene drives. Speakers will discuss the technical considerations for the use of gene drives, drawing on case studies about their use to control mosquitoes that transmit infectious diseases such as malaria and Zika, and to control invasive rodents. The panel also will discuss ethical concerns about gene drives and public engagement considerations for developing research and regulatory policies that integrate scientific capabilities with public needs and values. Finally, speakers will share a set of proposed general principles to guide responsible practices in, and oversight of, gene drive research for use by investigators, their institutions, research funders, and regulators.
Keegan Sawyer, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Audrey Thevenon, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Lisa Taneyhill, University of Maryland, College Park
Gregory Kaebnick, The Hasting Center
James P. Collins, Arizona State University
What Are Gene Drives? How Do They Work? Why Are They Important?
Elizabeth Heitman, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Informing the Development of Responsible Governance With Responsible Science
Jason Delborne, North Carolina State University
Incorporating Public Engagement in Research and Governance