Gene Drive Symposium, 24 May 2019, Eventforum Bern

Which path do we want to take as a society?

Gene Drives have the potential to circumvent the rules of inheritance in order to quickly and fundamentally alter wild populations of species or to exterminate them altogether. An idea that has long existed, gene drives may soon become reality with the help of new genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9.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 di˜erence 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:

Are the promised goals achievable?

What environmental implications could we face if we were to eliminate populations or species using gene drives?

Are there dispensable species?

Who gets to decide?

What are the consequences of making such attempts if they are unsuccessful?

Are the appropriate regulations in place?

Which path do we want to take as a society?

A working group of international scientists, philoso-phers and legal experts has extensively considered these questions. The outcome of this process will be presented for discussion at the Gene Drive Sympo-sium.

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