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. In collaboration with researchers at North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, and the Expert & Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST), Keystone is conducting interviews and workshops to assess perspectives on the risks and benefits of gene drives in the control of invasive rodents on islands.
GBIRd is a partnership among universities, government, and nonprofit organizations that brings together geneticists, evolutionary biologists, ethicists, risk assessors, math modelers, regulatory experts, social scientists, and conservation professionals. GBIRd is funded by multiple sources; Keystone’s stakeholder engagement work for this project is funded through a grant to North Carolina State University by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA). As with all of its efforts, Keystone approaches this effort from a position of independence with a goal of understanding the range of stakeholder perspectives;
Keystone does not advocate for a specific outcome regarding the use of gene drives.