Delphine Thizy portrait

Convention on Biological Diversity meeting is a critical moment for gene drive research

Target Malaria is attending the UN Biodiversity conference this week. We are excited about this oppportunity to meet so many groups involved in conservation and sustainability work, but we’re also very concerned by a push to see a ban on gene drive adopted here. Bans cannot help us make informed decisions – it is so early still in the research process, so of course we don’t have all the answers. Does it mean we should stop everything? No.

Researchers need to continue to work to fully understand the potential as well as the risks. And then governments will be able to make informed decision based on available studies and information. ‘Gene drive’ is an approach – it could be applied to different problems in different ways. In some cases, governments might find that the technology developed has a lot of benefits and is worth using, in other cases it may be that the technology is not acceptable. Governments will need to make determination on a case by case basis, and for that we need research to take place.
Eighty experts and scientists have now joined in a letter expressing their concerns about this possible ban. We really hope this week is one where we can have a constructive discussion with different groups, rather than see a shadow cast on a whole new field of research that could benefit so many. At Target Malaria we’ve made engagement a cornerstone of our approach, so we hope other groups also see the value in dialogue and keep an open mind about what the outcome of research might be.