Engineering the wild: Gene drives and intergenerational equity

J. Kuzma and L. Rawls,  Jurimetrics,  56:279-296. 2016.

New genetic engineering methods are allowing scientists to insert genes into organisms that have the potential to spread themselves throughout natural populations upon the release of individuals carrying those genes. Gene drive technology is being researched and developed for purposes of reducing or eliminating human, ecological or agricultural pest populations, or immunizing other desirable or endangered species against pests and disease. The ability of humans to alter populations within ecosystems through genetic engineering raises issues associated with biodiversity and conservation that, in turn, may affect the abilities of current and future generations to use and enjoy the benefits of the natural world. Yet, children and future generations are not typically given voice in legal, policy, or ethical debates. This article examines several of the intergenerational equity issues posed by gene drive technologies. A typology of gene drive purposes and their potential ecological impacts is developed, followed by an examination of how they may intersect with concerns about intergenerational equity. To our knowledge, this analysis is the first to explore human intervention through genetically engineering populations in the wild and the impacts on future generations