GeneTip aims to provide insights for the precautionary risk management and regulation of the rapidly advancing technology of self-propagating artificial genetic elements (SPAGE) and its potential applications.
SPAGE represent a fundamental technological breakthrough, whose possible consequences require a broad social discourse involving relevant researchers and stakeholders. The release of artificial genetic elements, which are designed for efficient self-copying and distribution in wild populations, requires an extremely careful risk-benefit assessment. The integration of the different organizational levels between the molecular intervention and dynamics in the environment, as well as the coordination of the interests of different social groups, are basic necessities that have already been tackled in comparable technological changes, such as synthetic biology (see e.g. http://www.tecdesign.uni-bremen.de/).
The results are intended to promote a well-founded discussion between the public, experts and stakeholders as well as political decision-makers. Above all, the results should make it easier to make assessments and make decisions with regard to
- possible tipping points in regard to an introduction of SPAGE technologies in agriculture, both in general and using the example of the planned / possible introduction of genetically modified olive flies, rape and organisms with gene drives respectively,
- the need for further prospective studies,
- further research incentives to characterize potential hazards of SPAGE technologies,
- the potential socioeconomic impact of introducing genetically modified insects in agriculture,
- possible strategies for risk reduction by favoring low-risk development paths and
- methods and standards for a prospective analysis of hazard, exposure and vulnerability, for a precaution-oriented risk management and a corresponding regulation.