Documentation: "Assessing the security implications of genome editing technology"


The International Workshop "Assessing the security implications of genome editing technology" from October 11-13, 2017, aimed at evaluating current evidence for the nature and likelihood of genome editing risks and exploring potential for future developments and options for governance strategies. Summary Report by Dr. Robin Fears, EASAC Biosciences Programme Director.

Two hands holding DNA.
New genome editing technologies and their potential applications fuel debates about their utility and safety among publics, scientists, and policy makers. (Picture: Blablo101 – Shutterstock)

In organising the workshop "Assessing the security implications of genome editing technology", the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) joined with the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, to review the latest advances in genome editing and their societal implications. Potential benefits span medicine, plant and animal breeding, microbial production systems and gene drives, systems that could potentially transform an entire population of a selected animal or plant species. In addition to discussing potential benefits, the workshop was designed to explore potential safety and security – associated with intended misuse – implications, and ways to prevent or mitigate those potential security concerns. The workshop recognised the importance of an open and inclusive discussion with stakeholders and the promotion of a research culture that builds trust through responsibility and integrity. As with any other new technology, a lack of communication about uncertainties may undermine public confidence in science.
Scientists and security experts should listen to concerns regarding the potential misuse of genome editing and provide their expertise on what is, and is not, likely. The scientific community must ensure that younger researchers and researchers worldwide also have a voice in this ongoing dialogue.

Summary Report

The Summary Report, published by the IAP, was written by Dr. Robin Fears, EASAC Biosciences Programme Director.