Articulating ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) for engineered gene drives

George, D. R., T. Kuiken and J. A. Delborne,  Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,  286:20191484.. 2019.

Recent statements by United Nations bodies point to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as a potential requirement in the development of engineered gene drive applications. As a concept developed in the context of protecting Indigenous rights to self-determination in land development scenarios, FPIC would need to be extended to apply to the context of ecological editing. Without an explicit framework of application, FPIC could be interpreted as a narrowly framed process of community consultation focused on the social implications of technology, and award little formal or advisory power in decision-making to Indigenous peoples and local communities. In this paper, we argue for an articulation of FPIC that attends to issues of transparency, iterative community-scale consent, and shared power through co-development among Indigenous peoples, local communities, researchers and technology developers. In realizing a comprehensive FPIC process, researchers and developers have an opportunity to incorporate enhanced participation and social guidance mechanisms into the design, development and implementation of engineered gene drive applications.