Recommendations

Synthetic gene drives have the potential to solve seemingly intractable problems in public health, environmental conservation and agriculture. However, they also have the potential to cause negative environmental and human health effects.

  1. There continues to be clear and transparent communication of governance arrangements regarding regulation of synthetic gene drives.
  2. Resources be provided to study synthetic gene drives in isolated laboratory populations with sample sizes and time frames that are large enough and/or long enough to observe processes such as selection, resistance evolution, population structuring and transmission distortion, together with the intended and potentially unintended consequences that these process may lead to.
  3. Stringent, multiple containment measures be taken when researching synthetic gene drives.
  4. Any decision to release a synthetic gene drive continues to be made on a case-by-case basis following a comprehensive environmental risk assessment which includes ecological and evolutionary modelling.
  5. There be clear communication and consultation with the public through appropriate channels from the earliest stages of gene drive research, particularly with affected communities.
  6. The wider implications of synthetic gene drives (e.g. trade implications) be considered.

© 2019 Australian Academy of Science

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