The ethical landscape of gene drive research

Callies, DE,  Bioethics,  33:1091-1097. 2019.

Gene drive technology has immense potential. The ability to bypass the laws of Mendelian inheritance and almost ensure the transmission of specific genetic material to future generations creates boundless possibilities. But alongside these boundless possibilities are major social and ethical issues. This article aims to introduce gene drive technology, some of its potential applications, and some of the social and ethical issues that arise during research into the technology. For example, is investigation into gene drives hubristic? Would applications of gene drives count as technological fixes? Or does research into such a technology sit on a slippery slope or lock us in to its full-scale use? Are there perverse effects of engaging in research, and, most importantly, who ought to be included in the decision-making process regarding research and field trials? Understanding the basic ethical landscape of this technology will prove invaluable to the public, scientists, and policy-makers as research moves forward.