Technologies are poised to alter the meaning of being human. Genome editing, especially of the human germline, raises fundamental questions of the dignity and integrity of human life. This scientific and technological frontier is also a moral frontier, with implications for all life on the planet. It demands inclusive and far-reaching deliberation drawing upon a wide range of human knowledge, experience and moral imagination.
Established in September 2020, the Global Observatory for Genome Editing seeks to expand the range of questions arising at the frontiers of emerging biotechnologies and explore and encourage alternatives. It fosters international, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral dialogue among communities that have not been in a position to reflect upon each others’ perspectives on issues that concern all humanity.
Convene: We bring together representatives of diverse intellectual, cultural, and spiritual traditions to discuss the foundations of their beliefs in environments designed to foster hospitality and mutual understanding.
Collect: We curate the diversity of responses to the range of issues brought into view through biotechnologies that touch upon fundamental dimensions of human life.
Analyze: We examine the foundations of thought on human purposes and meanings, attending to key issues, concepts, convergences, and variations in law, policy and public debate across jurisdictions.
The Observatory brings together participants and perspectives from around the world to reflect on the uses of technologies that are poised to alter the meaning of being human and to imagine better futures. Its purpose is to serve as a corrective to the prematurely narrowed questions, perspectives and modes of deliberation that have come to dominate in influential scientific and bioethical arenas. Currently these approaches command significant power to define the scope and terms of debate for evaluating the meaning of advances in the bioscience, biomedicine and biotechnology. They have tended to privilege technical questions focusing on risk to individuals, to constrain ethical framings, and to limit the scope of moral deliberation by engaging a restricted set of stakeholders.