In Burkina Faso, the government is considering the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to eradicate malaria. In Nantucket, Mass., officials are looking at gene editing as a tool in the fight against Lyme disease. And scientists are using gene technology to adapt coral to changing ocean conditions from the Caribbean to the Great Barrier Reef.
Yet for all the breathtaking promise of these technologies, there remain profound concerns about the potential unintended consequences of releasing gene-edited organisms into the environment—and a lack of governance oversight.
In a new paper published in Science, an interdisciplinary group led by Yale researchers argues for new global governance to assure a neutral and informed evaluation of the potential benefits and risks of gene editing. They argue that the complex nature of these technologies requires, on a case-by-case basis, careful and judicious review—a decision-making process that must include local communities that would feel the biggest and most immediate effects.
"The biggest risk right now with this technology is the uncertainty associated with it," said Natalie Kofler, an associate research scientist at the Yale...