Exploring the value of a global gene drive project registry

R. I. Taitingfong, C. Triplett, V. N. Vásquez, R. M. Rajagopalan, R. Raban, A. Roberts, G. Terradas, B. Baumgartner, C. Emerson, F. Gould, F. Okumu, C. E. Schairer, H. C. Bossin, L. Buchman, K. J. Campbell, A. Clark, J. Delborne, K. Esvelt, J. Fisher, R.,  Nature Biotechnology,  2022.

Recent calls to establish a global project registry before releasing any gene-drive-modified organisms (GDOs) have suggested a registry could be valuable to coordinate research, collect data to monitor and evaluate potential ecological impacts, and facilitate transparent communication with community stakeholders and the general public. Here, we report the results of a multidisciplinary expert workshop on GDO registries convened on 8–9 December 2020 involving 70 participants from 14 countries. Participants had expertise in gene drive design, conservation and population modeling, social science, stakeholder engagement, governance and regulation, international policy, and vector control; they represented 45 organizations, spanning national and local governmental agencies, international organizations, nonprofit organizations, universities, and district offices overseeing local vector control. The workshop aimed to gather perspectives on a central question: “In what ways could a gene-drive project registry both contribute to and detract from the fair development, testing and use of GDOs?” We specifically queried the perceived purpose of a registry, the information that would need to be included, and the perceived value of a registry. Three primary findings emerged from the discussion: first, many participants agreed a registry could serve a coordinating function for multidisciplinary and multisector work activities; second, doing so may require different design elements, depending on the target end-user group and intended purpose for that group; and third, these different information requirements lead to concerns about information sharing via a registry, suggesting potential obstacles to achieving transparency through such a mechanism. We conclude that any development of a gene-drive project registry requires careful and inclusive deliberation, including with potential end-users, to ensure that registry design is optimal.

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