Gene Drive Supplement

Experts Call for the Inclusion of Local Communities in the Implementation of Gene Drive Technology

February 23, 2022

Gene drive technology can potentially help address some of the most intractable health and environmental challenges worldwide. To achieve these, experts highlight the importance of including local communities in the decision-making and implementation of the technology.

Experts from the United States, Sao Tome and Principe, and Portugal are urging for the evaluation of whose values and voices should be considered during the planning and implementation stages of gene drive campaigns. They noted that when creating guidance frameworks for gene drive, the work is largely led by academics and experts while there is little representation of those who are regularly engaged with the local communities. It is important to be ethically responsible by carefully considering the local communities' best interests and respecting their ideology and values when developing frameworks. If these are not met, there is a risk of creating recommendations that lack representation of entire groups for whom the recommendations were intended in the first place.

The experts also emphasized the concept of co-developing in creating campaigns and implementing the gene drive technology. This requires trust between the research program and the communities involved for a successful collaborative work and authentic partnership among all of them. Engagement is important to facilitate rigorous knowledge exchange, understand how knowledge is produced and shared, and identify what information is valued and by whom. These build the capacity of the participating groups and decreases the risk of generating skepticism and rejection.

For the partnership to truly succeed, communities of any initiative should be involved in the whole process. Thus, it is important to include not just academics but also field-site practitioners, stakeholders, and communities in the discourses on gene drive.

To learn more about ethical considerations for gene drive, read the full article published by Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

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