Empowering Indigenous Knowledge in Deliberations on Gene Editing in the Wild

R. Taitingfong and A. Ullah,  Hastings Center Report,  51 Suppl 2:S74-s84. 2021.

Proposals to release genetically engineered organisms in the wild raise complex ethical issues related to their safe and equitable implementation. While there is broad agreement that community and public engagement is vital to decision-making in this context, more discussion is needed about who should be engaged in such activities and in what ways. This article identifies Indigenous peoples as key stakeholders in decisions about gene-editing in the wild and argues that engagement activities need not only include Indigenous peoples but also be designed, conducted, and analyzed in ways that confront longstanding power imbalances that dismiss Indigenous expertise. We offer specific recommendations to guide deliberative activities to not only be inclusive of Indigenous peoples but also to empower their diverse, situated knowledges. We call on those committed to the inclusive design of broad public deliberation to pursue strategies that shift dominant power dynamics to include Indigenous communities in more meaningful ways.

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