Gene drive organisms (GDOs), developed with select traits that are genetically engineered to spread through a population, have the power to dramatically alter the way society develops solutions to a range of daunting health and environmental challenges, from controlling dengue fever and malaria to protecting crops against plant pests.
But before these gene drive organisms move from the laboratory to testing in the field, scientists are proposing a course for responsible testing of this powerful technology. These issues are addressed in a new Policy Forum article on biotechnology governance, “Core commitments for field trials of gene drive organisms,” published Dec. 18, 2020 in Science by more than 40 researchers, including several University of California San Diego scientists.
“The research has progressed so rapidly with gene drive that we are now at a point when we really need to take a step back and think about the application of it and how it will impact humanity,” said Akbari, the senior author of the article and an associate professor in the UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences. “The new commitments that address field trials are to ensure that the trials are safely implemented, transparent, publicly accountable and scientifically, politically and socially robust.”