Interdisciplinary symposium on gene drives with a focus on their scientific, ethical, socio-economic and regulatory aspects
FRIDAY 24 MAY 2019
9:00―17:00 Eventforum Bern Fabrikstrasse 12
3012 Bern, Switzerland
The idea of circumventing the rules of inheritance in order to quickly spread and maintain desired traits through an entire population or species, has long existed. With new genetic engineering techniques for genome editing, such as CRISPR-Cas9, it may soon be possible to turn this idea into reality. It has been claimed that gene drive technology may be used to combat infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue or zika, as well as to reduce the threat posed by agricultural pests and ecologically harmful invasive species. However, a crucial difference with conventional gene technology is that gene drives intentionally target wild populations in order to permanently alter them.
Gene drives are a technology that raises fundamental ecological, social, ethical, and legal questions:
* Which path do we want to take as a society?
* Is it a good idea to seek to irreversibly alter ecosystems in the age of mass extinctions?
* Are there dispensable species?
* Are the promised goals achievable?
* Who gets to decide?
* What environmental implications could we face if we were to eliminate populations or species using gene drives?
* What are the consequences of making such attempts if they are unsuccessful?
* Who is responsible when things go wrong with a technology that potentially crosses borders?
* Are the appropriate regulations in place?
A working group of international scientists and philosophers has extensively considered these questions. The outcome of this process will be presented for discussion at the Gene Drive Symposium.
Lim Li Ching, Third World Network
Christopher Preston, University of Montana
Ricarda Steinbrecher, Federation of German Scientists (VDW)
Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK
Kevin Esvelt, MIT Media Lab
Ignacio Chapela, University of California, Berkeley
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Honorary president, Club of Rome
More information at: https://genedrives.ch
European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility