[A]lthough it might not always be obvious, both critics and advocates of the technique — called a gene drive — tend to agree on many things. The science is emerging, but potentially powerful. It could offer great benefit, but it could also do much harm. It should be used with care, and only after a thorough examination of the risks. As the rhetoric heats up, both sides should remember this common ground.
The meeting is of a group of experts who advise the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which last year rejected calls for an international moratorium on gene-drive research. Such calls are likely to be repeated, and those who want a freeze on the science this week claimed a major coup. More than 1,000 e-mails sent and received by US scientists working on the technology were obtained under freedom-of-information laws and released to the media. And sent with them were claims that gene-drive researchers and funders were working with a public-relations company to unduly influence how the UN biodiversity treaty tackles the technology.
This is an unfair attempt to create damaging and polarizing spin. The e-mails reveal mostly mundane discussion about research and meetings. Where they discuss the UN process, they explain how scientists can share their expertise on the technology and its potential impacts.
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