Global citizen deliberation on genome editing

18 September 2020 Vol 369, Issue 6510


Policy Forum
Global citizen deliberation on genome editing
By John S. Dryzek, Dianne Nicol, Simon Niemeyer, Sonya Pemberton, Nicole Curato, André Bächtiger, Philip Batterham, Bjørn Bedsted, Simon Burall, Michael Burgess, Gaetan Burgio, Yurij Castelfranchi, Hervé Chneiweiss, George Church, Merlin Crossley, Jantina de Vries, Mahmud Farooque, Marit Hammond, Baogang He, Ricardo Mendonça, Jennifer Merchant, Anna Middleton, John E. J. Rasko, Ine Van Hoyweghen, Antoine Vergne
Science18 Sep 2020 : 1435-1437
Global governance can be informed by a deliberative assembly composed of lay citizens
Genome editing technologies provide vast possibilities for societal benefit, but also substantial risks and ethical challenges. Governance and regulation of such technologies have not kept pace in a systematic or internationally consistent manner, leaving a complex, uneven, and incomplete web of national and international regulation (1). How countries choose to regulate these emergent technologies matters not just locally, but globally, because the implications of technological developments do not stop at national boundaries. Practices deemed unacceptable in one country may find a more permissive home in another: not necessarily through national policy choice, but owing to a persistent national legal and regulatory void that enables “ethics dumping” (2)—for example, if those wanting to edit genes to “perfect” humans seek countries with little governance capacity. Just as human rights are generally recognized as a matter of global concern, so too should technologies that may impinge on the question of what it means to be human. Here we show how, as the global governance vacuum is filled, deliberation by a global citizens’ assembly should play a role, for legitimate and effective governance.