Governing Gene Drive Technologies: A Qualitative Interview Study

Governing Gene Drive Technologies: A Qualitative Interview Study
de Graeff, Karin R. Jongsma, Jeantine E. Lunshof & Annelien L. Bredenoord
AJOB Empirical Bioethics, Volume 13, 2022  Issue  2
Gene drive technologies (GDTs) bias the inheritance of a genetic element within a population of non-human organisms, promoting its progressive spread across this population. If successful, GDTs may be used to counter intractable problems such as vector-borne diseases. A key issue in the debate on GDTs relates to what governance is appropriate for these technologies. While governance mechanisms for GDTs are to a significant extent proposed and shaped by professional experts, the perspectives of these experts have not been explored in depth.
A total of 33 GDT experts from different professional disciplines were interviewed to identify, better understand, and juxtapose their perspectives on GDT governance. The pseudonymized transcripts were analyzed thematically.
Three main themes were identified: (1) engagement of communities, stakeholders, and publics; (2) power dynamics, and (3) decision-making. There was broad consensus amongst respondents that it is important to engage communities, stakeholders, and publics. Nonetheless, respondents had diverging views on the reasons for doing so and the timing and design of engagement. Respondents also outlined complexities and challenges related to engagement. Moreover, they brought up the power dynamics that are present in GDT research. Respondents stressed the importance of preventing the recurrence of historical injustices and reflected on dilemmas regarding whether and to what extent (foreign) researchers can legitimately make demands regarding local governance. Finally, respondents had diverging views on whether decisions about GDTs should be made in the same way as decisions about other environmental interventions, and on the decision-making model that should be used to decide about GDT deployment.
The insights obtained in this interview study give rise to recommendations for the design and evaluation of GDT governance. Moreover, these insights point to unresolved normative questions that need to be addressed to move from general commitments to concrete obligations.

Proceedings of an expert workshop on community agreement for gene drive research in Africa – Co-organised by KEMRI, PAMCA and Target Malaria

Proceedings of an expert workshop on community agreement for gene drive research in Africa – Co-organised by KEMRI, PAMCA and Target Malaria
Gates Open Research
Open Letter metrics AWAITING PEER REVIEW
[version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]
Delphine Thizy, Lea Pare Toe, Charles Mbogo, Damaris Matoke-Muhia, Vincent Pius Alibu, S. Kathleen Barnhill-Dilling, Tracey Chantler, Gershom Chongwe, Jason Delborne, Lydia Kapiriri, Esther Nassonko Kavuma, Sethlomo Koloi-Keaikitse, Ana Kormos, Katherine Littler, Dickson Lwetoijera, Roberta Vargas de Moraes, Noni Mumba, Lilian Mutengu, Sylvia Mwichuli, Silvia Elizabeth Nabukenya, Janet Nakigudde, Paul Ndebele, Carolyne Ngara, Eric Ochomo, Simon Odiwuor Ondiek, Stephany Rivera, Aaron J. Roberts, Rodrick Sambakunsi, Abha Saxena, Naima Sykes, Brian B. Tarimo, Nicki Tiffin, Karen H. Tountas
Peer Reviewers Invited
Funders: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Open Philanthropy Project
PUBLISHED 29 Jan 2021
Gene drive research is progressing towards future field evaluation of modified mosquitoes for malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa. While many literature sources and guidance point to the inadequacy of individual informed consent for any genetically modified mosquito release, including gene drive ones, (outside of epidemiological studies that might require blood samples) and at the need for a community-level decision, researchers often find themselves with no specific guidance on how that decision should be made, expressed and by whom. Target Malaria, the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Pan African Mosquito Control Association co-organised a workshop with researchers and practitioners on this topic to question the model proposed by Target Malaria in its research so far that involved the release of genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes and how this could be adapted to future studies involving gene drive mosquito releases for them to offer reflections about potential best practices. This paper shares the outcomes of that workshop and highlights the remaining topics for discussion before a comprehensive model can be designed.