Gene Drives – Will Scientists Slam On the Brakes?

by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

stopGene drives may bestow to humankind a radically new manner of dominion over nature.  Future engineers might use this capacity to tinker or totally re-edit the genes of wild organisms with consequences conceivably ranging from essentially undetectable to the premeditated genocide of entire species.  That is just what we can conceive of, the full ecological impacts of gene drive releases may only become known with time and some might not be reversible.

A recently released U. S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on gene drive research notes their possible environmental impacts and risks are not understood (1, 2).  Adopting the position the potential benefits warrant continuing gene drive research and field trials, the panel advised more work is required before any releases are considered.  A formal call for caution in the face…

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