Recent experiments have been used to "edit" genomes of various plant, animal and other species, including humans, with unprecedented precision. Furthermore, editing the Cas9 endonuclease gene with a gene encoding the desired guide RNA into an organism, adjacent to an altered gene, could create a "gene drive" that could spread a trait through an entire population of organisms. These experiments represent advances along a spectrum of technological abilities that genetic engineers have been working on since the advent of recombinant DNA techniques. The scientific and bioethics communities have built substantial literatures about the ethical and policy implications of genetic engineering, especially in the age of bioterrorism. However, recent CRISPr/Cas experiments have triggered a rehashing of previous policy discussions, suggesting that the scientific community requires guidance on how to think about social responsibility. We propose a framework to enable analysis of social responsibility, using two examples of genetic engineering experiments.
Keywords: scientific social responsibility, science governance, scientific profession, genetic engineering, values engineering.