Emerging Genetic Technologies2019-04-26T10:53:16-07:00

Emerging Genetic Technologies

Keystone Policy Center is fostering critical dialogue around emerging genetic technologies to help ensure ethical, equitable, safe, and positive outcomes for society.

These technologies provide the potential for significant, rapid innovations in food, medicine, public health, energy, and conservation — but also raise important questions about risks and benefits. From the control of mosquito-borne illness to the eradication of invasive rodents, from cures for diseases to solutions for sustainable agriculture, now is the time to engage a broad range of perspectives in determining the future and governance of these technologies. As the science proceeds at a breathtaking pace, Keystone is engaging researchers, policymakers, private companies, civil society, youth, and citizens around the world in debating the uses of CRISPR/Cas9, gene drives, germline editing, and other genetic tools.

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In CRISPR and other gene-editing technologies, the scientific community has handed the world an incredible tool: The ability to make precise edits to the DNA in living cells. These technologies could allow us to transform our food, health, and ecological systems. They also raise important questions about risks, benefits, ethics, equity, and more.

Together with key partners in the scientific community, Keystone has brought together leading voices from diverse sectors to discuss the future of gene editing technologies across a variety of applications. Learn more

Stakeholder Engagement Practices to Inform the Development of Area-wide Vector Control Methods

Recent technological developments in the field of vector control (for example, those relating to novel gene drive techniques) have led to significant interest in effective stakeholder engagement for area-wide vector control interventions. Unique considerations apply because these approaches may not offer individuals the chance to ‘opt out,’ as would be possible during the testing of other medical interventions (e.g. vaccine field trials). Through a series of online consultations and a workshop, Keystone served as part of a multi-disciplinary team of experts and practitioners contributing to a paper on guidance on stakeholder engagement practices to inform the development of area-wide vector control methods. The guidelines are available at The PLOS – Neglected Tropical Diseases website

Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives on the Development of a Gene Drive Mouse for Biodiversity Protection on Islands

Gene drives — mechanisms for biased inheritance —have implications for a wide range of fields, including public health, ecology, national security, and more. Gene drives can occur naturally in populations, but scientists are working to develop new drives in the lab through genetic engineering. Potential applications of these genetically engineered drives include eradicating mosquitoes to address the spread of human and avian malaria and eliminating invasive rodents on islands. Communities, stakeholders, and the broader public will likely be following their development, whether with enthusiasm, opposition, concerned scrutiny, or a combination of all of the above. Keystone is working in partnership with North Carolina State University and Arizona State University to incorporate stakeholder and community input into gene drive research exploring the feasibility and suitability of the use of gene drives for control of invasive rodents, which threaten island ecologies and biodiversity. Learn more

Zika Planning & Engagement
in Los Angeles County

Keystone is partnering with Los Angeles County to host a series of community workshops to examine strategies to inform local responses to the Zika virus and other vector borne illnesses. Keystone’s work — which builds on extensive work developing collaborative strategies to confront public health challenges and building public engagement — will inform Los Angeles County’s strategy, investment, and communications for vector control, public health, and preparedness.

Public Engagement on Genetically Engineered Algae

Genetically engineered algae hold the potential to reshape the landscape on food, energy, health, and numerous other sectors. In order to ensure these steps are taken responsibly and with a full airing of potential concerns, Keystone partnered with North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, and the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) to host a workshop around expanding the breadth and reach of public engagement. The workshop resulted in a report.

Expanding the Conversation on Synthetic Biology and Genetic Technologies

Social acceptance among a broader constituency of communities, stakeholders and publics will ultimately drive choices on the use new genetic technologies– and the time to engage these perspectives is now. In an attempt to chart a path forward, the Keystone Policy Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a summit in 2016 on stakeholder and community engagement for applications of synthetic biology. We brought together more than two-dozen public and private sector leaders from a wide range of substantive areas to discuss engagement priorities for public health, conservation, and food and agriculture. Participants shared lessons learned and future priorities.