Genetic Frontiers for Conservation
Synthetic biology presents challenges for conservation. It brings both perceived risks to biodiversity and the people who rely on it as well as apparent opportunities to address some of conservation’s intractable problems. In this session members of IUCN’s Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation discussed the key issues.
The explosion of research on DNA has brought technologies that allow humans to alter the genes of organisms to make them do things that humans want and that those organisms would not normally do – synthetic biology. These rapidly evolving technologies create exciting opportunities in many fields, including new kinds of conservation, but they also raise serious questions and complex challenges. Given this, in 2016, IUCN’s Members requested (WCC-2016-Res-086) an evidence-based assessment of the issues regarding synthetic biology that are relevant to and may have an impact – negative or positive – on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The assessment was published in 2019 under mandate of IUCN’s six expert Commissions and Director General. It addressed >700 peer review comments. This facilitated panel discussion presented the diverse perspectives and case studies reported, and provided an opportunity for panellists to debate the key issues with each other.
Dr. Kent REDFORD, Principal, Archipelago Consulting
Dr. Thomas BROOKS, Chief Scientist, IUCN
- Ms. Lydia SLOBODIAN, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University
- Dr. Elizabeth BENNETT, Vice President, Species Conservation, WCS
- Dr. Hilde EGGERMONT, Strategic Coordinator Belgian Biodiversity Platform/IUCN Councillor
- Prof. Dan TOMPKINS, Science Strategy Manager, Predator Free 2050 Ltd
- Dr. Ann KINGIRI, Director, STIKS Programme, African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)
- Ms. Aroha MEAD, Research Director, Biological Heritage National Science Challenge
- Ms. Aileen LEE, CPO, Environmental Conservation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
- Dr Todd KUIKEN, Senior Research Scholar , North Carolina State University
Ms. Julie SHAPIRO, Director, Center for Natural Resources, Keystone Policy Center