‘Gene drive’ scientists ask UN Biodiversity Conference to not block new technology

| December 6, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is a letter written to the governing body overseeing the biosafey treaty–the Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagenta Protocol on Biosafety–from scientists who support gene drive research. 

We urge you to support ongoing and new gene drive research, building on cautious and responsible practices and broad stakeholder dialogue.

The potential for gene drive technology is very significant. It is a novel tool which may enable interventions that are durable, cost-effective, and highly efficacious, complementing existing efforts to improve human health and environmental sustainability.

We urge you to resist current advocacy efforts demanding a ban on gene drive research or on the future use of gene drive-based products. Imposing a moratorium on such promising life-saving and life-improving innovations so early in their development would be unwarranted, damaging and irresponsible. Blanket bans discourage research and prevent regulators, policy-makers and other stakeholders from having an informed conversation about the use of new technologies.

One potential application of gene drive is to reduce the burden of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and the Zika virus, which account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, and cause more than 1 million deaths annually…

Other potential applications, such as for the control of invasive alien species for conservation purposes, are also being investigated…Invasive species are the leading cause of island extinctions, and the second-leading cause of extinctions on continental mainlands…

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Open Letter on Gene Drive Technology

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

1 thought on “‘Gene drive’ scientists ask UN Biodiversity Conference to not block new technology”

  1. Dear editor, dear readers.
    Although I can fully understand that a new technology as the gene drive can elicit fear in someone´s mind, I can´t agree with a ban based on fear. Indeed, in many recent posts coming from activists against biotechnology there is no clear indication on how the hazards pointed out could possibly turn into harm to any relevant protection goal. A pathway to harm containing plausible, science-based steps, must exist for each hazard and this is obviously not the case, for many reasons. The main reason, however, is that any risk assessment must be focused on a case (or a product) and it is simply impossible to produce a meaningful statement on risks for a large set of products. Even if one limits the scope of a gene drive to narrow on population reduction (very seldom it will be a true extinction), risks may vary enormously depending on the organism, the trait and the region where it will be released.
    Clearly, there is no clear reason why we should ask for a moratorium, either for research or for commercial release of gene drive organisms. A proper risk assessment, which can be done using the presently available pipelines without any special challenges, will point out the risks and we can than act accordingly. No blind moratorium will ever allow a proper assessment of risks. On the other hand, it will certainly block progress and will prevent the development of new products that could effectively help control diseases and pests.
    I am sure countries will not take decisions based on fear instead of on science.

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