Emerging Genetic Technologies 2018-02-20T14:38:53+00:00

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.

Featured Projects


With CRISPR/Cas9, the scientific community has handed the world the ability to precisely edit the genes of plants, animals, humans, and other species. This technology could have a profound impact on conservation, agriculture, and human health. It also raises important questions related to bioethics, environmental impacts, safety, regulation, and public engagement.

Together with the University of California, Berkeley, Ketchum, and steering committee of CRISPR researchers and thought leaders, Keystone developed the program for a two-day conference in Berkeley, Calif., that will elevate the diverse voices of those whose communities and lives could be impacted by CRISPR. 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.

Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents: Stakeholder and Community Engagement

Gene drives — mechanisms for biased inheritance — have the potential for use in conservation, public health, agriculture, and even biosecurity. However, the potential for population-scale genetic technologies that impact future generations generates significant scientific and societal questions regarding ecological impacts and even biosecurity. Whether to proceed with such technologies requires input from a wide variety of stakeholders and communities. Keystone is working with the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents (GBIRd) project 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

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.