No Environmental Release of Gene Drive Organisms

By Stop Gene Drives Campaign, Save Our Seeds, Germany; Terre a Vie, Burkina Faso; Third World Network; African Biodiversity Network (ABN); Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA Kenya).

Gene drive technology uses new genetic engineering techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 to forcibly spread genetically engineered traits, including lethal ones, throughout entire populations and species, overriding natural rules of inheritance so that nearly 100% of offspring inherit the genetically engineered trait. 

Whereas existing biosafety systems are designed to limit the spread and persistence of living modified organisms to mitigate against adverse impacts, the rationale behind gene drives is to intentionally spread genetic modifications to alter species and ecosystems. 

Genetic engineering of entire species in the wild is at odds with the conservation goals of a Global Biodiversity Framework. It is impossible to predict all the potential impacts on biodiversity and on the many different layers of all the complex ecosystems in time and space that gene drive organisms would interfere with.

No release of gene drive organisms would be contained. Gene drive organisms would have far-reaching and potentially irreversible effects on nature and people. Inclusive and participatory processes of technology assessment including multi-disciplinary expertise and respect for diverse knowledge systems and values are needed to address and to avert the range of potential risks and adverse impacts, including socio-economic, health, cultural and ethical impacts.

Some Indigenous Peoples and African local communities’ lands are being proposed for the first releases of gene drive organisms. Even gene drive developers admit gene drive organisms are likely to spread uncontrollably across borders, preempting and overriding the ability of nations to manage, and endangering Indigenous Peoples, local communities and future generations.

We urge governments to prevent the environmental release of gene drive organisms, and call for a global moratorium on the release of gene drive organisms by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.


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