Analysis of the public and scientific gene drive discourse

Project Lead: Alexander Lang
Team: Erich Griessler, Helmut Hönigmayer, Florian Winkler
Duration: 2021–2022

Gene Drives are mechanisms that can influence which gene variants will preferably be passed on in the process of heredity transmission. With this it is possible to increase the prevalence of a certain genotype within a population. There are many different possible applications of Gene Drives currently being discussed, e.g., the reduction or extermination of Anopheles mosquito populations, which are the carriers of Malaria, or pest control in agriculture. Most of the potential fields of applications of Gene Drives are contested — amongst others, critical voices point to risks for entire ecosystems.

The project “Analysis of public and scientific discourse of Gene Drives” examines the discourse around various applications of Gene Drives. The empirical investigation maps out the constellations of actors and topics in the international debate and analyses how different actors discuss the technology and risks and opportunities connected to it. The study will contribute to the project “Gene drives – technologies for propagating genetic modifications throughout populations” of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB).