Oversight Over Environmental Gene Editing


Profiled article

K. Dennehy, “Editing nature: A call for careful oversight of environmental gene editing: Interdisciplinary team urges creation of coordinating global body.”, sciencedaily.com, Nov. 01, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101142916.htm

About the article author

Kevin Dennehy is the Associate Director of Communications for the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.


This week, we are profiling Kevin Dennehy’s article in Science Daily regarding global oversight over gene editing. Environmental gene editing has become a prominent solution for problems such as malaria in Burkina Faso and Lyme disease in Massachusetts. However, there is still concern about the consequences these alterations will have when the edited organisms are released into the environment. A new paper from a team led by Yale researchers argues for a new global governance system that oversees gene editing projects to assess their costs and benefits and make decisions on a case-by-case basis by incorporating social and ethical concerns with scientific data. The ability to balance the concerns associated with unintended consequences to affected communities with the sometimes immense benefits of environmental gene editing will be crucial to the future of gene editing. This also raises some important discussion questions. First, who would be responsible for the decision-making on gene editing cases? Who is included in the discussion, and who is excluded? What decision-making process is used to make sure that the outcome is ethical?

Related Links

For an introduction to gene editing: http://nuffieldbioethics.org/report/genome-editing-ethical-review/genome-editing

For more info on the use of gene-editing to fight malaria in Burkina Faso: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mosquitos-crispr

For more info on governance over gene-editing: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6414/527