Gene drive gone wild: exploring deliberative possibilities by developing One Health ethics

Capps, B,  Law, Innovation and Technology,  11:231-256. 2019.

Gene editing may be used to engineer organisms that are better or worse adapted to survival. Coupled with gene drives ? molecular genetic strategies that perpetuate specific phenotypes in a target species ? it would now be possible to edit wild animal populations that impact on public health. It is generally agreed that community engagement should guide prospective gene drive field trials. However, the analysis in this article reveals that there is a tension between publics and the public interest: it is contentious to allow communities to decide policy when doing so will have consequences beyond their own interests, as surely gene drives will; conversely, it goes against ideal deliberation for the state to impose policy without this democratic condition. The gene drive controversy creates further dichotomies illustrative of this tension: giving effect to weighted decisions that discriminate between culture and nature, local and global, private and public, and present and future interests. In this article, an emerging concept of One Health ethics (OH) is employed to strengthen ethical engagement on the policy roadmap used to navigate the gene drive controversy. OH in practice has been shown to provide insightful solutions at the interface between animal and human health; and, in this article, that advantage is extended to the public good and public interest. In so doing, OH ethics ? as spelled out here ? is coextensive with public health ethics.