Representatives of conservation and consumer non-governmental organizations unveiled six principles for responsible governance of gene editing in agriculture and the environment in an article published [August 11] in the July edition of Nature Biotechnology. The authors noted that gene editing and other biotechnologies have the potential to address urgent food security, environmental, and human health dilemmas, yet these technologies also raise potential for societal concerns, environmental and health risks, and conflicts with cultural and spiritual values.
The six principles outlined in the article include: 1) Effective, science-based government regulation; 2) Voluntary best practices that complement regulatory oversight; 3) Risk avoidance and delivery of tangible societal benefits; 4) Robust, inclusive societal engagement; 5) Inclusive access to technology & resources; and 6) Transparency on gene editing products in the environment.
Underscoring the timeliness of discussion of principles for gene editing and the inadequacy of the current governance and regulatory framework, the organizations note that several developers are currently poised to introduce gene-edited products into commerce and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently substantially deregulated gene-edited plants and proposed a similarly minimal oversight system for gene-edited animals.
[Editor’s note: Read the full Nature Biotechnology article here.]