Principles Urge Robust Oversight, Stewardship, Management of Gene-Editing Technologies

Responsible Use Will Avoid ‘Potentially Devastating Impacts on Biodiversity, Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation and five peer conservation and scientific advocacy organizations issued six principles today to ensure new and emerging gene-editing technologies are safely and responsible developed, studied, and deployed. The principles, published in Nature Biotechnology, endorse robust “management, oversight, and stewardship” of these technologies.

“Gene editing technologies present both potentially significant benefits as well as significant risks to biodiversity and native ecosystems. There is an immediate need for adequate safeguards to ensure against unintended environmental consequences while still allowing for technological innovation,” said Aviva Glaser, director of agriculture policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “These principles offer a pathway for the responsible use of gene editing technology — one that allows for innovation and societal benefits while avoiding potentially devastating impacts on biodiversity and the environment.”

The principles are:

  1. Gene-editing technologies should be applied safely and ethically; care should be taken to avoid substantial risk and deliver tangible societal benefits
  2. Robust, inclusive societal engagement is essential
  3. Effective, science-based government regulation is required for realizing the full benefits of gene-editing and managing for risks
  4. Voluntary stewardship and best practices should supplement regulatory oversight through engagement, transparency, and product assessments that consider a full range of (health and safety, social, economic, and ecological) impacts before any release into the environment
  5. The public should have access to clear information identifying which gene-editing applications are in use in food, agriculture, and the environment
  6. Inclusive access to gene-editing technology and resources can help drive societal benefit


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