The National Academy of Sciences has selected Gregory Kaebnick, a Hastings Center research scholar, to serve on a committee to develop recommendations for research involving the use of gene drives in non-human organisms.
Gene drives employ genome editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 to make genetic modifications to populations of organisms. They raise questions about ecological and other risks and the very prospect of making genomic changes to species of wild organisms in natural settings.
The committee will review the state of the science of gene drive research involving animals, plants, insects, and other non-human species and identify scientific techniques for reducing ecological and other risks before field release. To accomplish this task, it will:
- Determine the adequacy of existing oversight mechanisms and risk assessment guidance to identify potential environmental and public health implications raised by individual applications of gene drive technology.
- Discuss relevant legal, social, or ethical considerations in selecting sites for field releases and engaging people living in or near those sites.
Kaebnick is a principal investigator on a project, supported by the National Science Foundation, which is examining the role of values in the impact assessment of emerging technologies, including gene drives. The project had its first meeting on June 18 and 19.
- Provide general principles to guide responsible practices in gene drive research in laboratories and field releases.