Gene Drive Symposium

Friday 24 May 2019 | 9.15 am to 18.15 pm in Bern

The Gene Drive Symposium is an interdisciplinary and public platform to discuss fundamental ecological, social, ethical and legal questions on gene drive technology.

Gene Drives have the potential to circumvent the rules of inheritance in order to quickly and fundamentally alter wild populations of species or to exterminate them altogether. An idea that has long existed. But now gene drives may soon become reality with the help of new genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9.
It has been claimed that gene drive technology may be used to combat infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue or zika, as well as to reduce the threat posed by agricultural pests and ecologically harmful invasive species. However, a crucial di˜fference with conventional gene technology is that gene drives intentionally target wild populations in order to permanently alter them. Because of this, gene drives are a technology that raises fundamental ecological, social, ethical and legal questions:

  • Are the promised goals achievable?
  • What environmental implications could we face if we were to eliminate populations or species using gene drives?
  • Are there dispensable species?
  • Who gets to decide?
  • What are the consequences of making such attempts if they are unsuccessful?
  • Are the appropriate regulations in place?
  • Which path do we want to take as a society?

A working group of international scientists, philosophers and legal experts has extensively considered these questions. The outcome of this process will be presented for discussion at the Gene Drive Symposium.

Ignacio Chapela, Lim Li Ching, Kevin M. Esvelt, Thomas Potthast, Christopher J. Preston, Klaus Peter Rippe, Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ricarda Steinbrecher, Helen Wallace and Fern Wickson

Find out more about our speakers.