Prescribing engagement in environmental risk assessment for gene drive technology

S. Hartley, A. Kokotovich and C. McCalman,  Regulation and Governance,  2022.

Abstract Gene drive technology is a nascent biotechnology with the potential to purposefully alter or eliminate a species. There have been broad calls for engagement to inform gene drive governance. Over the past seven years, the gene drive community has been developing risk assessment guidelines to determine what form future gene drive risk assessments take, including whether and how they involve engagement. To explore who is developing these guidelines and how engagement in risk assessment is being prescribed, we conduct a document analysis of gene drive risk assessment guideline documents from 2014 to 2020. We found that a narrow set of organizations have developed 10 key guideline documents and that with only one exception the documents prescribe a narrow, vague, or completely absent role for engagement in gene drive risk assessment. Without substantively prescribed engagement in guidelines, the relevance, rigor, and trustworthiness of gene drive risk assessment and governance will suffer.

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