Research on gene drive systems is rapidly advancing. Many proposed applications of gene drive research aim to solve environmental and public health challenges, including the reduction of poverty and the burden of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue, which disproportionately impact low and middle income countries. However, due to their intrinsic qualities of rapid spread and irreversibility, gene drive systems raise many questions with respect to their safety relative to public and environmental health. Because gene drive systems are designed to alter the environments we share in ways that will be hard to anticipate and impossible to completely roll back, questions about the ethics surrounding use of this research are complex and will require very careful exploration.
Gene Drives on the Horizon outlines the state of knowledge relative to the science, ethics, public engagement, and risk assessment as they pertain to research directions of gene drive systems and governance of the research process. This report offers principles for responsible practices of gene drive research and related applications for use by investigators, their institutions, the research funders, and regulators.
Copyright 2016 by the National Academies of Sciences. All rights reserved.