|13 March 2019
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
The Implications of Gene Drives on Human Rights
In October 2018, a broad alliance of civil society organizations (CSOs) published a “Call to Protect Food Systems from Genetic Extinction Technology”, calling for a global moratorium on gene drive releases. A gene drive is an invasive technology aimed at spreading genetically engineered traits through whole populations of plants or animals within a few generations.
A recent analysis from a human rights perspective identifies the impacts gene drives will have on ecosystems and human rights:
(1) Gene drives will undermine peasants’ control over genetic resources, which is essential to their food sovereignty through increasing the dependency of peasants and herders on commercial species/varieties/races, and the high risk of contamination of other varieties and species.
(2) Gene drives will undermine agroecology and sustainable food systems and further strengthen the industrial agriculture paradigm.
(3) Gene drives will threaten biodiversity and ecosystems. Gene drives have the potential to forever change the genetic makeup of species, or even drive certain species to extinction. They could lead to the unintended extinction of other species or produce new invasive species or organisms.
(4) Gene drives will entail incalculable risks for human and animal health. Engineered genetic mutations could spread in an uncontrolled manner in both wild and domestic species (genetic pollution) and increase the risk of unexpected mutations.
(5) Gene drives will entrench corporate capture of research and science. Research on gene drives is largely financed by corporations and philanthro-capitalist foundations and promotes a Western concept of knowledge, innovation, technology and progress over other forms of knowledge and cosmovisions.
The paper calls for States to observe their obligations in the context of human rights, biodiversity and biosafety through the following actions:
- put in place a global moratorium on any release of engineered gene drives;
- ensure adequate and effective monitoring and regulation of research on gene drives and other invasive technologies;
- bring the discussion on gene drives and its risks to the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS);
- strengthen the UN Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation as a space to discuss the role of science, technology and innovation to advance human well-being and protect planet Earth, and to monitor research on gene drives and other invasive technologies, ensuring the Forum’s grounding in human rights and ensuring the absence of conflicts of interest among its members.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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