The Politics and Governance of Innovations in Genomic Science

June 2020

The workshop will focus on three new technologies in genomic science: gene editing, mitochondrial replacement therapy, and polygenic scoring.  Each offers great promise, substantial risks, and opportunity for political and ideological conflict. The amount and type of appropriate governance for each technology is also contentious, as well as fluid and underdeveloped. Countries vary in their combinations of permissive or restrictive rules, public participation in decision-making, and axes of dispute. The workshop will develop a proposal to seek support for studying these issues. Participants will engage in three tasks. The first is to refine a draft public opinion survey about the three new technologies. The survey will include an experiment to permit analysis of the impact of information on attitudes and policy preferences. The second task is to refine a draft institutional analysis of the context within which these technologies are being developed and opinions are forming. It will include a study of relevant laws and judicial decisions, interviews with key public and private actors, and a media analysis to determine public and advocacy group engagement with these controversial innovations. The research project will examine the politics and governance of genomics’ uses in the United States, the United Kingdom, and hopefully the People’s Republic of China and either Germany or Australia. That points to the third task of workshop participants: to propose criteria for determining whether research in China is feasible, and for deciding on the addition of a fourth country to the study.